Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O'Neill
There are some simple lessons that we can learn from the Christmas story and I thought we should just go over them this morning and I think you've seen them very plainly and they apply to us individually and they apply to us as a body. So, I'd ask you first of all, what happened when Jesus was born in Bethlehem? And the answer is in John 1:14, if you'd like to look at that. What actually happened when Jesus was born? Well it's there.
John 1:14, "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us", that's it. That's really what happened. God's nature was manifested in an ordinary human life in the actions and the thoughts and words of a human life. That's what happened when Jesus was born. The word became flesh. It expressed itself in the actions and the thoughts and words of an ordinary human being. That's always going to be the test of reality. And in the last days it's interesting, in the last days the spirit of antichrist, which is already in the world at present, the spirit of deception and lying and bluff and hypocrisy, that spirit of antichrist, that's how you'll discern the spirit of antichrist. I'll show you that loved ones if you look at it, it's I John 4:2,3.
I John 4:2,3, "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already." So it's interesting. In the midst of all the pretenses that will go on in the last days and there will be Christs you know, that will come and say, "I am the Christ, I am the Christ", and will do all kinds of miracles. And they'll have many of the appearances of Jesus but you'll be able to discern the spirit of antichrist because that spirit will refuse to accept and believe that Jesus has come in the flesh. It's Jesus in the flesh that Satan opposes. It's Jesus coming in the flesh that was the heart of Christmastime and that's what Satan opposes. Jesus coming in the flesh, God's will being manifested in the acts and thoughts and words of a human being.
Satan isn't too concerned about religious people, really. Satan isn't too concerned about religious people. He isn't. In many ways he loves religion and I'll show you some of the religious people he loved there in Matthew 23, you remember Jesus spoke about them.
Matthew 23:1, "Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men." That's it, loved ones.
Satan loves religious people. Satan isn't shocked if you go to church services. He isn't upset if you go to prayer meetings and if you go to Bible studies and if you get involved in all kinds of religious activities and you become part of the whole religious scene here in America. Satan isn't opposed to that because he actually can use that to confuse the whole issue of what is true and untrue and what is God and not God. Satan doesn't oppose religious practices. He doesn't oppose those of us who get involved in all kinds of religious activities and religious jargon and religious shibboleths. What he hates and what he is determined to destroy is the word becoming flesh.
So as long as you go to church, and as long as you act religious, and as long as you keep that to Sundays and don't let it get into your life, into your everyday behavior life, you won't have any trouble from Satan. And you won't have any opposition from him. And it's interesting Satan, actually doesn't oppose your good intentions. He won't try to destroy you if you keep your religion in the realm of thoughts and intentions and good plans. I'll show you an example of that that you know yourself, Mark 10:17 it is.
Mark 10:17, "And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.' And he said to him, 'Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.' And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions."
So you could have good intentions and you can actually do lots of things that are good, except the one thing that means that the word would become flesh in your life. The one place where God's will is not being done by you in your everyday detail life and if you don't allow the word to become flesh there, Satan will give you no trouble with all kinds of other religious ideas and religious intentions.
It's very interesting but if you notice there wasn't tremendous opposition even to Isaiah's birth or Jeremiah's or Micah or Amos, they all preach the forgiveness of sins. Satan isn't very opposed to the idea of forgiveness of sins. That's why Christendom in so many parts of our nation prospers because forgiveness of sins is very popular but it emphasizes just, "I am going to get to heaven, I am not going to hell, I am going to get to heaven." But it doesn't do much in regard to dislodging Satan's position of princedom in this present world and that's the only thing Satan is concerned about.
Satan is not concerned with Jesus saying, "I believe God could heal sickness", Satan isn't concerned with that. He doesn't care if we all believe God can heal sickness. But he is desperately opposed and vehemently hostile to a man like Jesus who comes to a paralytic and says, "Get up, take up your bed and walk." That is the word become flesh and Satan is opposed to that. Satan is not opposed to you thinking, "I should say something about the attitude in our office to language. The language is miserable. It is dirty and filthy. I should say something about it. I should, I have been in this office for several years. I should speak out."
Satan isn't concerned about you. He won't oppose you at all. He'll let you carry on with those good intentions and those good desires and those good beliefs for years, as long as you never actually speak out. But the moment the word becomes flesh in your life, you will face the same things as the baby Jesus faced because the moment you do that, the baby Jesus is beginning to be born in your life.
Satan isn't concerned with Jesus saying, "I believe God could raise the dead", he isn't concerned with that. He isn't troubled if you say, "I believe Jesus could raise the dead". He isn't concerned with you saying, "Well, I believe God could heal Susan, I believe that." He isn't concerned with you saying, "Well, I believe if I did give my tithe to God, he probably would sort out my finances, I must do that sometime." God isn't in your life. He isn't become flesh in you as long as you say those things. What Satan is opposed to is when Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus and says, "Come forth, Lazarus!" He expresses in his words and with his actions what he believes God's will is for his life. That is the word become flesh and Satan opposes that.
Loved ones, in years to come maybe I'll be able to explain to you in greater detail why we've gone through some of the things that we've gone through, but some of it can be very plainly explained by this Christmas story. While you and I want to gather in this sanctuary and sing hymns and pray nice prayers and generally uplift each other and encourage each other, but do not practice victory over sin in our own lives -- in other words, while we talk about the homosexuals and while we talk about the drunkenness and while we talk about the dishonesty and while we share with each other all our desires to be better and don't come into victory over sin in our own lives, Satan will not bother us at all. But once you begin to preach and share and live victory over sin, the powers of hell itself converge on such a little body of people.
While you keep your religion in here, while we all meet together here and have a good religious time on a Sunday and do not practice it Monday through Friday; while we take the attitude: business is dirty, it should stay over there and we'll keep a nice clean religion over here, and we get then to business, we'll operate the way the rest do; while we do that, Satan will not oppose. But when you begin to practice Monday through Friday at your place of business or at your place of work, what God's will is for you, the powers of hell begin to move against you.
Once you join the secular with the sacred, once the word becomes flesh, once the Spirit joins with an ordinary human life in flesh and blood, the powers of Satan descend upon that group. Now, if you add to that, that you're dumb enough to try to obey the great commission to go and preach the Gospel to all nations, and instead of deciding to stay in America and let the rest take care of themselves and you determine to go out and obey the great commission, all of Satan's fury is let loose upon you. And that's part of what we're experiencing and we need to just face it. When the word becomes flesh, the powers of hell move to destroy the infant Jesus. Why? Because that's the real coming to being of Jesus in you.
Loved ones, it isn't Jesus coming to being in you when you have good intentions or good desires or good hopes or all kinds of religious activities. That isn't Jesus coming to being in you. Jesus coming into existence in you is when your actions and your words and your thoughts actually express what God's will is for your life. Talk about having done with fornication until you're blue in the face. Talk about giving up adultery for years. Talk about wanting to do something for God, Satan laughs, 'big deal, big deal. That doesn't scare me." But if you once stop fornicating, if you once stop committing adultery, if you once start giving yourself to God in reality, if you once start acting in your everyday life the will of God for you, then Satan begins to converge because he knows the baby Jesus is being born in you. He is coming to existence in you.
Now that's what happened loved ones, back in the Christmas story if you look at it. When Jesus was born, mighty forces began to converge upon the stable, first if you look at Matthew, that lesson that Gentry read, Matthew 2, first of all the good forces of the spiritual world began to converge.
Matthew 2:6, "And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel." The Holy Spirit knew that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. He had prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem and so the Holy Spirit was there and you can see that in Matthew 2:1-2.
Matthew 2:1-2, "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying," -- so good people, good forces began to converge - "saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." The Holy Spirit moved good forces toward the stable in Bethlehem because they knew that the Holy Spirit had prophesied that the king would be born there.
So first of all there were good forces that moved. It's the same with you. Whenever you move toward Jesus and whenever you move toward letting him be born in you, there are good forces that move in to assist you. There are good powers of the Holy Spirit. There are angels that gather around you to facilitate that miracle to take place in your life. So, those forces converge. Then there were evil forces of the spiritual world that converge. You can see that in Matthew 2:7,8.
Matthew 2:7,8, "Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem saying, 'Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring the word, that I too may come and worship Him.'" It's interesting, Satan doesn't know everything, don't know if you know that. Satan doesn't know everything. He moves in the spiritual world and he reads what the good spirits know and he reads from us down on earth what he can see in us but he doesn't know everything. The forces of evil are actually dependent on in fact what the forces of good reveal to them in order to take part in anything and that's why the forces of evil moved in.
Herod began immediately to use the wise men to try to find this king. The forces of evil move in upon you, so I think you need to be prepared for it. I just think you need to see that the forces of evil will move to prevent this little gentle baby Jesus being born in your life. They always will. They'll always try to destroy the birth of Jesus. They'll try to prevent the word becoming flesh in your life. So when you begin to move towards God, don't be surprised that things start going wrong. The forces of evil are always trying to prevent Jesus being born in a human being or in a body of Christ. They're always trying to prevent the Savior becoming real or the word becoming flesh.
Then the secular powers move against. The secular powers Herod, and his people move against. The religious powers, Matthew 2:4. They begin to move against you. "And assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born." The chief priests and the scribes, even the religious forces moved to prevent Jesus being born because he would claim the allegiance they wanted for themselves. So, the religious forces, believe it or not, will move in to prevent the reality of Jesus' Spirit taking place in your life. It's amazing the way we do it you know here in America.
See Jesus is different in you to what he is in me. Jesus is going to be different in you to what he is in me. Jesus loves you personally. He is going to become something in you that he isn't in me. You are unique. You're a picture frame inside which God wants to draw a unique picture of his Son so his Son Jesus is going to come into existence in you in a way that is different from the way he comes into existence in me.
The religious forces move in upon you to prevent that and make you a miserable stereotype. Who dot all the eyes, cross all the T's, utter all the shibboleths, repeat all the religious jargon, fall into all the religious patterns. And the religious forces move in to make you satisfied with that or refuse it.
Have something fresh inside you as Mary had. Find Jesus fresh among you. Find Jesus fresh inside you. Get to know Jesus personally yourself. Allow him to become what he wants in you. Even if you end up doing things differently from other people. Even if you end up doing things that other people don't agree with. Let Jesus let the Word become flesh in you. The secular powers will move against you, know that, the financial world will move against you for anything that Jesus tries to do in trusting God for your finances.
The professional world will move against you because it will move against you for daring to oppose selfish ambition in your life. As the word becomes flesh among you, as Jesus begins to try as a little, you know it, do you see it, a little baby? Do you see what a little baby is? You know their little fingers and they're just so helpless. I mean you know actually they must be the frailest thing, you remember Pascal said, "Man is but a frail reed." You know, "a thinking reed but a frail reed", and you look at a little baby, a little baby human being seems even more vulnerable than a little baby animal, doesn't he somehow?
It takes immense care from the mother to keep the little one alive. That's Jesus in you. That's the Savior in you. The Savior in you is just a little tiny baby. And it'll take all your care and nourishment and nurture to have him grow. And what the forces of religion and the forces of secular powers try to do is snatch him out from you and put some coarse crude imitation in the place of Jesus. Don't do it.
The Savior is wriggling and wriggling inside you and wants to get out and wants to begin to express himself in your words and your actions. Cherish him and treasure him and see that the forces of evil try to move to destroy that. The secular powers will do it. The religious powers will do it. The powers of the spiritual world will do it. They will. There are mighty spiritual powers. Loved ones, I don't know if you know of a particular amazing verse in Daniel.
Just an incredible piece of the Bible. Daniel 10:10-14, "And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, 'O Daniel, man greatly beloved, give heed to the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.' While he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, 'Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me 21 days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia and came to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.'"
Now loved ones, the person that was talking to Daniel was not a man, he was an angel of God. And when he says in verse 13, "The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me 21 days", he is talking about Satan's prince, that's why he says, "But Michael, one of the chief princes", we all know Michael is an archangel. What the angel of God is saying is there is actually a battle in the spiritual places where there are actually spirits of Satan that try to prevent the angels of God coming to you to assist you. There are mighty powers that converge to prevent Jesus being born in you.
Loved ones, it's always easier to sell to masses of us human beings something crude and coarse. It's always difficult to transmit something as frail and gentle as the baby Jesus and that is what the forces of evil try to destroy. Now you may say, "Well, how on earth, how on earth can I conceive Jesus inside me? How on earth have I any chance of the Savior becoming real in me, and his word becoming flesh in me?"
Well, because loved ones, you have the same assistance as Mary had. And that assistance is there if you want to look at it in I John 4:4, "Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." He who is in you is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in you and he is greater than all the powers of the world. He is greater than the crude coarse powers that move upon you in your business or your profession. He is greater even than the crude coarse powers of religious world that move upon you. The Holy Spirit is in you and he is greater than all the powers of hell and all the powers of Satan and he is inside you and it is him that will conceive Jesus in you. It is him that will bring to life the Savior. It is the Savior that the world desperately wants to see.
The world is fed up to the teeth with religious people. It's fed up to the teeth with people who talk religion but it desperately wants to see the fresh and gentle Jesus. It wants to see the pure Jesus. The Jesus who practices what he preaches and the Holy Spirit is within you and is able to conceive Jesus in you. What have you to do? Just what Mary did, in Luke 1:38.
Luke 1:38, "And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'" Acknowledge the Holy Spirit as Mary did and say to him, "Be it to me according to your word", and the Holy Spirit may point out some things in your life that you never knew about it or you never thought very much about. He may point out some things that he wants you to do that you never thought of. He may point out some other things and say they're wrong and you never thought they were wrong. Listen to him, acknowledge him, honor him. The Holy Spirit will by that means, by your response, he will begin to bring Jesus alive inside you and the Word will begin to become flesh in you despite all the forces that converge to destroy that.
Say to the Holy Spirit, "Be it unto to me according to your word", and then from that moment on, do what Mary and Joseph did. You see it in Matthew 2:13-15. "Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in the dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.' And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord has spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt have I called my Son'". God told them to rise and go to Egypt, they obeyed him. That's what you do. You obey the Holy Spirit. You acknowledge the Holy Spirit as being in your life. You say, "Be it unto me according to your word", and then you start to obey him in your life. And as you do, the baby Jesus begins to grow inside you and grow strong and come to fullness of stature and your life is the Word become flesh and that is why God put you here on earth.
That's what the powers of evil want to prevent. I'd encourage you loved ones. I don't know about you but I don't want to be part of the religious scene, you know. I don't want to be part of just all this church stuff. I want to be real with God. I want my life to be what he wants it to be and I believe you want that same thing and that's the only thing that will cut any ice in this present world. Jesus becoming alive inside you and as soon as that happens, there's something fresh deep down.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, an English poet has a line in one of his modern poems, "There lies the dearest freshness deep down things". There lies the dearest freshness deep down things. There is deep down in you the freshness of the seed of the baby Jesus and if you honor the Holy Spirit, he will fill your life with that freshness. All you have to do is say, "Be it onto me according to your word", and obey him. I pray that this will be a real Christmas for you and that Jesus will be born in you.
Dear Father, we see the mighty forces of the secular world and the religious world that converge to prevent your will becoming flesh in the actions and words and thoughts of your son Jesus. And we see our Father how miraculously the Holy Spirit enabled that to become real despite all the opposition. And Father, we believe that you have given us the same Holy Spirit, and the same power and the same grace, and that despite all the powers that opposes, all the forces of the secular world of finance and the secular world of career and profession, despite all the forces of the religious world, despite all the forces of Satan and of his hoards, we believe our Father, that you are able to beget Jesus in us so that the wWord will become flesh in us and we will live above sin and we will join the secular with the sacred in our ordinary everyday business life and we will obey that great commission and go and preach the Gospel to all nations.
Dear Father, we come to you now and ask you to beget Jesus in each one of us, that he may be fully formed in us and the Word may become flesh and dwell among us. We ask this in his name for his sake. Amen.
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