[soft music] – I’m standing in the
modern day city of Nazareth, which is the largest Arab Jewish city in the nation of Israel. And this city doesn’t
look much like the city that Jesus grew up in. It’s a large city. Jesus, the town he grew up
in, maybe had 150 people, maybe 200 people. It wasn’t far from the known
main highways in the area. You know that little town
that’s on the highway that you never turned off to? That was Nazareth. [soft music] There’s an interesting
comment about Nazareth. In the book of John, first chapter. Jesus is in the early
days of his ministry, and he’s just picking his disciples, the guys who are gonna be with him for his entire time on earth, and then ultimately will
be called the apostles in the new church. One of those guys name was Philip. And when Philip heard
about Jesus and met Jesus and was transformed by
Jesus, he went to his friend, Nathaniel, and he said, “This is the one. “I believe this is the one “that we’ve been waiting
for, the Messiah.” To which Nathaniel replies, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Have you ever read that
scripture and thought, what’s wrong with Nazareth? It’s a small town, hasn’t
been around all that long. There’s no history of
it in the Old Testament. Maybe there’s some just
bad stuff that goes on but why can nothing good
come out of Nazareth? Well, you know what, Philip says to him. “Come on, I want you to meet Jesus.” [upbeat music] Nathaniel meets Jesus and transforms his life and he becomes a believer. When we read that story, I
think about the fact that we’re all on a journey right now. In fact, together we’re on
a journey toward Christmas. And here’s what I want you to do. When you have the thought
that how can anything good ever come out of? And you fill in the blanks. My circumstances, situation I’m in, my family situation. I want you to remember Nazareth. Because Nazareth tells us
that just because it hasn’t doesn’t mean that it won’t. [soft music] – Well, Merry Christmas. – [Congregation] Merry Christmas. – Is it too early? – [Congregation] No. – Okay, good, are you ready for Christmas? Everybody got all their stuff together? Well, we’re gonna help you. We’re not gonna be your personal shoppers. We’re not gonna decorate your tree or figure out your lawn
design for lights or whatever. But we are going to do a journey together through different places in Israel, kind of giving a picture
of what was going on in the first century, so
that we can understand what Scripture says and
apply it into our lives. And I think that Christmas
is a yearly reminder that what feels lost,
what feels forgotten, what might even feel
taken, is actually seen, remembered and valued. And we see that in this
city called Nazareth. And we all know from the
story that God visited us. He came and became one of us, the creator, Redeemer enters the world as a screaming, slimy, baby in a barn
basically, that was underground, that’s kind of what the situation was, archeology tells us. With the smell of hay and
animal dung in the air. And so this is how God
comes into the world and the whole world now
pays attention to that event during this time of year. And I remember when our oldest daughter was about three years old. She asked a horrifying question
to us during Christmas. She asked, “What’s the
deal with the baby?” [congregation laughing] Now, she had been to kids church, because I was the pastor. And we felt like gigantic failures. But what had happened to
her even at three years old, she had gotten lost in Christmas presents and Christmas meals and
Christmas activities and she had forgotten what
Christmas was all about. It’s about the baby, right? And it’s so easy to forget that. It’s so easy to be distracted. But because Christmas comes every year, it is a constant
reminder, not just of what we’ve made Christmas to be,
but what it originally was. And it originally was a historical event that God’s didn’t just
show up to a random person. He actually came and visited
a people, a nation, a city. And as the first century
writers of the New Testament, were trying to, under
inspiration of the Holy Spirit figure out how to describe
this chain of events around Christmas, they could
have used many different words. That would have been
understandable to the people, they could have used the word photismos, which was the word for
illumination, right? It was the word that described
insight into existing truth. They could’ve use that word,
it would have been understood. They could have used the word gnosis. The word gnosis is the word for knowledge, which was a description of new truth and certainly Christianity was introducing new truth to the world. They totally could have used that word they could have used the word, the didache which was
the word for teaching. Which is instruction in known truth, though Christianity was new, it was piggybacking on the
truths of the Old Testament, they totally could use that word. They could have used the word Sophia. What word do we get from Sophia? Wisdom. And they could have talked
about life’s realities of how God works practically in the world. All those words would have been fine, perfectly acceptable, but
they would not have captured the essence the crux,
the core of Christianity. And so instead the gospel
writers chose the word, eu-angelion, which is the word gospel. The word gospel means good news. And so the word angelion there what word do you think we get from that? Angel, yeah. So James Brownson says it this way, he’s a writer on first century matters. He says an angel was a
messenger that brought news of a real event that had occurred in History and that event having direct and dramatic implications for
the listeners of the message so here’s what would happen. They didn’t have the
internet the first century I don’t know if you knew that. They didn’t even have CNN or Fox News. They had no ways of
knowing when there king and their armies went out to face another nation in a battle. They had no way of knowing
whether or not that battle was successful, whether
or not their country won. So what would happen is,
when there was a battle, there would be an angelion, someone a message or someone who would
come back after the battle to the country and say
we won, here’s the news. It was good news. This is the word the New
Testament writers chose and I think it’s very important
that we understand that. It’s good news, not good advice. One scholar says it this way, religion, is an advice, mainly with a little bit
of story sprinkled in. But Christianity is mainly a story with a little bit of advice sprinkled in. And if Christianity is a story, and it’s good news, not good advice, then Christmas is a major
chapter in that story. And what we’re gonna see in this passage is that God didn’t just show
up and leave without a trace. He just didn’t appear to
someone, and then take off. He didn’t simply create the
world and then write a book, and then distance himself, God actually came and gave
himself fully to the world. God inserted himself into the story. He was born in Bethlehem, and
He was raised in Nazareth, and the good news, the gospel
tells us about these events. And what we’re going to see in this series is something very core to Christianity and that is this, place matters. Place matters. The mystery of the incarnation. Incarnation just simply means in fleshing, that God became flesh that
God dwelt as a human being, that that happened in a place. Christianity always happens in a place. It matters place matters. Bethlehem, Nazareth, real places. And I don’t know if you ever do this, do you ever do the game, “If I were God”? You ever played that game
the “If I were God game”? If I were God, so and so
would be in the White House. If I were God, so and so would be my boss. If I were God, I would
live in this neighborhood. If I were God, like, I do
that, I’m sure you do that. Well, I wanna do that with the
whole Christmas scene, right? If I were God, I don’t know if I would have picked the first century, specifically Palestine to show up. I don’t know if that’s
what I would have done. I probably I would have thought, okay, maybe halftime of the Super Bowl, one of the ones that people watch, right? New Year’s Eve when the
ball drops, maybe then, like somewhere where there was
mass media that would be no, I don’t know that I would
have picked first century, I think would have done
a more strategic place. I think I would have picked somewhere other than an underground cave. in the middle of nowhere, I think I may have picked the
White House, the Taj Mahal, at least a Chick-fil-A right,
something that people were at. But Jesus was born listen in a smelly, dingy, dank barn, basically. But think about that,
this king of the universe wasn’t born in Rome, or Beijing
or Paris, New York City, he was born in Bethlehem. And if you were to also
then if I were to play that, if I were God game, maybe
you would even think, Okay, I get it God you wanna be mysterious and subversive and, so you
kind of hid yourself away, but once you’re born God like Jesus. Surely you’re gonna go to the popular city you’re gonna go to the big city. Surely, you’re gonna use mass media. But actually Jesus was born in Bethlehem but was raised in Nazareth,
about 90 miles north. And he was in obscurity for 30 years. He was in a nowhere place. But once he started
his ministry at age 30, it only lasted for three years, he then got out. But then in our texts in
John 1, he comes back. How many of you went back
home for Thanksgiving? Raise your hand. High, be proud, yes. How many are going home for Christmas? Right? You can sing the song ♪ I’ll be home for Christmas ♪ I won’t hurt our ears with me singing, but there’s something about
going home that’s awesome. But there’s something about going home that’s humbling, isn’t there? I remember years ago I had written a book, and
it was a book for men. It was called “The
Dudes Guide to Manhood.” And I had, I was really
excited to get a copy of this book into the hands of my uncles, my dad kind of left our
family, my uncles raised me, and they really didn’t
understand Christianity and didn’t grow up in the church. So I was really excited
to get them this book. But the most exciting thing
was that I was able to, and if you’re like an
obscure author, like me, your whole goal is to get a publisher. And if you could possibly get a publisher, and sometimes to get the
publisher, the way to do it, and certainly the way to maybe
sell more copies of the book is to get somebody famous to write the foreword for the book. And so somehow, in the
miraculous providence of the God of the universe, I was able to get somebody
famous to write the foreword, and he was a TV star at the time, and it was this amazing
show that was on television had a very like in it’s kind of highbrow you had kind of education to watch it. And it was very thick plot. You never knew what was gonna happen. It was called Duck Dynasty. And if you remember Duck Dynasty. [congregation laughing] And you remember Willie,
big beard headband, Willie writes the foreword. Now this was relevant for 1000 reasons. But for my uncle Dennis,
it was really important because he was a big Duck Dynasty guy. So I sent him a copy, I wrote in it, “Uncle Dennis, thank you
for helping me be a man.” And all kinds of wonderful true things about uncle Dennis. And so I got home at Christmas. I was so excited because uncle Dennis, I’m gonna like get to talk about the book. And I said, “Hey, Uncle
Dennis did you get my book?” “Yeah, I got it.” “Have you read any of it?” He goes, “Haven’t quite gotten to it yet.” Which probably meant he
never would get to it. He said, “But I got it
in a special place.” I’m like, “Great, where’s
the special place?” He’s like, “The bathroom. “right between the toilet
and the toilet paper.” I’m like, “Well, that’s
one place to read, okay?” But he’s like, “I put it there
because I wanted to be near “the toilet paper to remind
me of when you were little “and I used to wipe your bottom.” [congregation laughing] Because uncle Dennis perceived
a little bit of my pride and arrogance and he wanted to humble me, sometimes coming home is humbling. Jesus said it this way. He said, “A prophet is not
welcomed in his own hometown.” Jesus is literally not
preaching this public sermon. In fact, most of his ministry was not public sermons in foreign places. Most of his ministry was
intimate conversations in familiar places. And we are overhearing one of
those intimate conversations at the end of John 1
between Jesus and two men. One’s name is Philip and
the others name is Nathaniel and we’re gonna see some principles that he exhibited in these conversations that I think we can apply
to us as we think about this journey towards Christmas. The first thing is this. What we see here is Jesus is
looking for us in the present. Now, I didn’t grow up in
church and I started coming to church right around Christmas
time, and I felt so dumb. When you come to church after
not knowing being in church or not knowing the stories, you just think everybody knows it, but me. And so if that is you,
that’s absolutely untrue. There’s tons of us that are just trying to figure this thing out. Some of us are kicking
the tires of Christianity, trying to figure out the claims of Christ. That was me, and I didn’t know anything. So I’m hearing all this
stuff for the first time. And it’s amazing, and
it all made sense to me, and I was able to see
that I needed to stop being my own Savior and allow
Jesus to be my own Savior. I needed to stop being my own boss, and allow Jesus to be my boss, that’s what it means to be a Christian. And so I gave my life to Christ. It’s a great deal, you give him your sin, He gives you His righteousness. It’s good news people, it’s awesome. That happened to me, okay. So it happens to me, and then, it happened to you that’s good. It can happen to anybody, it happened to me and I was so excited. And I was telling one of the
older saints in the church, who happened to be a teacher
I had in high school. I said, Man, I’ve been looking
for this my whole life. And, he was so kind, but he needed to correct me a little bit. And he said, “Yes, I get
what you’re saying there, “but I need to tell you something. “God’s been pursuing you your whole life. “He’s been after you.” I took my son a few years ago to the pool for the first time where he was gonna be
hanging out with his friends and not his dad, remember that sad day? You remember the floaties, and then you were there and you went And then now he’s like with his buddies. And so I’m like, okay,
we’re cool with this but I’m a little concerned. I gotta find a place at the pool. We got there a little late, so there was only two good
places where you could really get a good vantage point of the two pools and kind of see what was going on. Because I trusted him,
but I didn’t trust him. The lifeguards were good, but
I didn’t trust them either. So I needed to have a
little bit of control and so I wanted to find
the best place to sit so that I could see what
was going on with him. And so I looked in one of
the places wasn’t available but the best place is
like this little hill and there was this tree, and you could like set underneath it. And the only problem was, and you know this from the pool, right? Nobody’s sitting in the seat
but there’s towels there. So what do you do? Do you just like, wow, this is what I did. I saw the towels and I
just said you know what? Nobody’s there. [congregation laughing] They’re not here with their
son for the first time, I’m taking over, I’m gonna sit here. Now when I sat down, what I realized was, I could see this pool, but
I couldn’t see this pool. So then I realized I better do this. Now I can see, okay, and so I was sitting
here like this watching. And I would sit down and read a little bit and then I would kind of
walk around and see him and then I would set up just
so I could see everything. And so over here, I see
his little buddy Joey splashing in the eyes. And he’s doing the chlorine thing. “I can’t see.” And then one of his other friends dunked him right, Hank dunked him. And then I see him
getting out of the pool, and he starts running this way. So, immediately I sit down
because I didn’t want him to know I was looking at him. And so he comes and he says, “Dad, where were you? “Didn’t you see I almost drowned.” I’m like, “You almost drowned?’ He’s like, “Yeah, I almost drowned.” I said, buddy, “I saw the whole thing.” He goes, “You can’t see me over.” I was like yeah, I totally saw you. I said, Joey splashed you in the face and got chlorine in your eyes. And then Hank dunked you in
the water and you got scared. He was like, “You saw me?” I’m like, yeah, buddy, I saw you. And so we read this text, sometimes it’s easy for us to
think that God doesn’t see. It’s easy to think that we’re not seen, that He doesn’t know what’s going on. But what we see in this text
is Jesus saw everything, and it wasn’t actually Phillip
that was looking for Jesus. Here’s what the text says. Jesus was looking for Philip. It says, “He found Philip, “and he said, ‘Follow me.'” Now this seems kind of strange, because Jesus would say this thing, follow me all the time to the disciples. And they would like drop
everything, their business, their relationships, and
just start following him. So it’s like what? Was there something in his eyes is like a tractor beam,
I must follow Jesus. How does this happen? Well, the text tells us that Philip knew and was from the same
city as Andrew and Peter, two of the first disciples. So they had told him about Jesus, right? So he went in knowing. So Jesus says, “Follow me.” And then he sends, in just a second, he sends Philip to tell
Nathaniel to follow him, but “Follow me” was a
culturally loaded statement. It was Rabbi language. So what would happen, at five years old as a Jewish boy, you would start going to
school, it’s like kindergarten, and your text was the Old Testament. So you would be studying,
reading, memorizing the Old Testament, and you
would get up, to about age 13. And you would be bar mitzvahs
if you had any Jewish friends. And then at that point, you’re really conversant
in the Old Testament. You’re able to interact with the stories, the laws, the writings, the prophets, all the major sections
of the Old Testament, but then, most kids would
drop off at that point, and just kind of go about their lives. But there were certain group of young men around college age, who
really showed interest and enthusiasm and discipline, and they would present
themselves before the rabbi, to be an apprentice, and
the rabbi would look out at these young college aged men, and he would tell a
few of them, follow me. And they would follow him for three years, how long was Jesus ministry? Three years. So they would follow him for three years. And then once the three years was up, which was a painful three
years, testing, feedback, critique, correction, training, and then if they were able to make it then he would say, “Now “follow me into deeper.” So this is what Jesus is
doing with these guys. Now, this long, painful
process took three years, and yet sight unseen, Jesus
says to him, follow me. How did Jesus do that? How did Nathaniel, respond
to this invitation as well? We’ll look at verse 47, it says, “Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him. “And he said of him,
‘Behold, an Israelite, “‘indeed whom there is no deceit.’ “Nathaniel said to him,
‘How do you know me?’ “Jesus answered him,
‘Before Philip called you. “‘When you were under the fig tree.'” What does it say church? “‘I saw you.'” Jesus didn’t need to have
a long testing process. Because he knew his past, which is the second principle,
Jesus knows all of our past. I remember reading the Bible. My mom told me to read the gospel of John when I was first exploring
the claims of Jesus. And I got to the end of chapter one, I’ll never forget it, and
I remember this passage. And I thought how does he know? See, I didn’t have my
theology all worked out then, I thought Jesus was just pretty
good guy, decent teacher. But then I start reading,
how did you know? Well, he was God that helps. But he was also a human being. And this is the mystery
of the incarnation. 100% God, 100% human being. Right, connected. You got that one figured out? Me neither no one else either. It’s a mystery, but this is
what Christianity teaches. Jesus 100% God, 100% man. It’s easy for us to focus on divine Jesus. I know we can’t split the nature. But it’s easy for us to
think of him that way. Sometimes it’s hard to think
of him as a human being. But he was a human being, and
so what if in this moment, Jesus is not just with,
omniscience, who knows everything, but what if his humanity
is interacting here? Have you ever noticed that the people who are most compassionate with someone’s past struggles are the people who also
had past struggles? Did you ever notice that? Like aren’t alcoholics,
who are in recovery, the ones who sponsor people who are trying to get out of addiction? Aren’t those who have suffered abuse that are survivors, the ones that go back in and
help people walk out of abuse? Aren’t those who maybe
struggled with poverty, the ones who kind of lead
the charge in helping people? When you have experienced
pain in your past, you’re able to help people with their pain, in their present, and Jesus didn’t have pain in his past because of his sin, but he had some pain in his past because he was from Nazareth. See Nazareth was in the middle of nowhere. See even Jerusalem, like
if you were in Jerusalem, that was the big city, that was the epicenter in that place. but people in Rome looked down on you. But even if you lived in Jerusalem, and you saw this place called Galilee, which is where this takes
place is kind of the, if you think of it like a
state where Nazareth live, people look down on people
in Galilee from Jerusalem. Even if you were in Galilee, you thought, “Gosh, I don’t wanna go to Nazareth.” Which is why Nathaniel said, can anything good come out of where? Nazareth? It was a nowhere place. It was that rural community with one stoplight and
no chain restaurants without a Walmart, but a few meth labs, that’s Nazareth, that’s Nazareth. Which is why it’s shocking that the gospel writers 17 times say, Jesus of Nazareth, the first early Christians
in the book of Acts when they were changing the world, their enemy said, “Those Nazarenes.” This was a forgotten
place a nowhere place. And I think one of the most
scandalous things about God. I mean, there are some scandalous things when you think about God, when
we try to understand that God created everything from nothing. Mountains and moons and stars and seas. When you think about
God, knowing the past, the present and the future, when you think about God having a very high standard for holiness. When you think about all
those things are scandalous, they’re hard to understand. But there is nothing friends,
I would submit to you more scandalous than the idea
that when God chose to come into the world, he came
in to a nowhere place and a forgotten people. This is our God. The text continues, “Jesus answered him. “‘I saw you under the fig tree. “‘Because I said this to
you, do you believe?'” In other words, you’re good? We good? You got it now? You’re gonna follow me? And he says, “Here’s what you’re gonna do, “you’re gonna do greater
things than these.” Now, what does that mean? Does that mean that Nathaniel is going to die on the cross for? No, no, no. Jesus is deviating from
rabbinic tradition here. See, a rabbi essentially would say, “I want you to follow me and do what I do. “But don’t go farther than me.” There was even some, evidence
that there was a little bit of thing like a competition of, the rabbis wanted to be
seen as most prominent, seen as the most gifted teacher, and so they would keep
their students down. They would keep them in a box so that they would be prominent. And here what Jesus is saying is, “You’re gonna do greater things than me.” And later on in the Gospel, John 14:12, he actually says it,
“Greater works will you do?” What does that mean? It means there’s gonna be more of you. When God came to earth, He can only be in one place in a body. But there’s gonna be disciples, which is what people who followed rabbis were called, everywhere. And so this tells us
something about Christianity. It says, God is not just
calling us to follow him to be a little better morally. God’s not just calling us to follow Him to learn some cool Bible stories. God’s not just calling us to follow him to achieve our version
of The American Dream or to have a nice place for our kids to grow up in a spiritual environment. Although, those things are good. God is calling us to follow him to change the world. That’s what you’re invited
into with Christianity, to be a world changer. So Jesus is certainly looking
for us in our present. He certainly knows about our past, but he has good plans for our future. Speaking of good plans for the future, next week we’re gonna
do a legacy offering. You say, “What does that mean?” That means we are gonna have a chance to give to literally be a part of what God is doing to change the world. God’s changing the world
right here in our community through The Dream Center. 6,000 patients last year have experienced healthcare for
things they couldn’t afford, saving lives, mending families. You know we go to Togo
all the time in the work that we do in West Africa. 40% of those folks do
not have clean water. Can you imagine? No clean water. We’re gonna solve that problem. We’re gonna be a part of that solution. Do you know how many
families in our community have special needs kids? And maybe they get some help at school, but when they try to go to church there’s no place to help. We’re gonna do some expansions and focus on those families. So many good things that
we can change in the world. Greater things. What does that mean? Greater things. Stuff that we can’t do by ourselves, but we can do it together. And I’m very passionate
about this offering. Because what God has done through the Ministry
of Seacoast helped me. Three and a half years ago my life absolutely fell apart. I was a pastor of a very large church and I imploded. And I had to forfeit the
opportunity lead that church. And Pastor Greg was on my restoration team and I know Pastor Greg for a long time. And after 15 months of tons
of counseling and healing, he said, “Hey, I think
your next step healing “is being on our staff.” And guys, I cannot tell
you how healing it has been to be here, to be under Pastor Josh
and Lisa’s leadership, to be able to be around the people who are not competitive and trying to, just kind, sweet people. Nobody’s perfect, but I’m telling you the staff is amazing
and they’ve invited me and opened their hearts to me and let me use my gifts. And it’s been so healing
for me personally. And so Pastor Greg and I were talking and we’re like. Yes, amen. [audience applauding] Amen. So, Pastor Greg and I were talkin’ and I said, “Man, what if we did this “for a bunch of pastors? “What if we said, hey we’re gonna “be a part of putting spiritual fathers “with spiritual sons. “Spiritual moms with spiritual daughters?” I don’t know if you know this, pastors are hurting. The suicide rate for
pastors is skyrocketing. Two prominent pastors in the last year or so
have committed suicide. And tons of others are
depressed, discouraged. We see this all the time. All the time. And so Pastor Greg and
I started this thing called The Pastors Collective. And it’s simply a ministry
to encourage pastors. And it’s a podcast. If you’re into podcasts,
go subscribe to it. You can hear my story in full. You can hear Pastor Greg’s story. We’ve talked about what
God’s done at Seacoast and interviewed a ton of other pastors. It’s free. If you’re bored, go check it out. But this is what we’re giving to. When you help a pastor, I mean you help a family, but you help sometimes hundreds, if not thousands or tens
of thousands of people. Those are the people
listening to that podcast. Those are the people when
Pastor Greg and I travel that we minister to. We’re changin’ the world. Greater things. And I remember at one of
these training events, Pastor Greg, who, as you know, just drops these little
wisdom nuggets all the time. And they’re so disarming, aren’t they? Like he’s makin’ some joke
that’s really not funny, and then he just drops this little bloop, this little truth bomb. And here’s what he said
at one of these events. He said, “The best way to be at peace “with the past and to be engaged
spiritually in the present “is to trust that you
have good in your future.” And he said that to me all the time. And on the podcast when he interviewed me, he said, “Darrin do you believe
you have a good future?” And then, you know how you
start to talk and then you cry and then you pretend
like you’re not crying? That’s what happened. [audience laughs] And I was like, “Yeah, I think so. “I want to. “Can you help me? “Will you be my dad.” I mean, I don’t know what I
said, but something like that. [audience laughs] Here’s the deal. You have to believe
you have a good future. That is hope. That’s what Christmas is about. And so some of you are
in Nazareth right now. And you feel forgotten. You feel alone. You feel insignificant. And you feel passed over. You feel like you’re trying
to get God’s attention. [soft music] You don’t know that he can see everything. You’re not feeling his attention. You’re not experiencing his focus, but I’m here to tell ya he sees. He knows. And he cares. Some of you feel like
you’ve been in Nazareth you’re whole life. Maybe you’re a middle child. Maybe you’re family didn’t love you well. Maybe you always felt like you
had the smarter other brother or the cute older sister, and you just always felt like I don’t matter. I’m insignificant. Who am I? Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Yeah, Jesus came outta Nazareth. And because he came out of Nazareth, he can meet you in your Nazareth. You’re not forgotten. You’re not alone. You’re not insignificant. He cares. He sees. He loves you. You’re not forgotten. We’re gonna sing this song. I’m sure in these few weeks, and by the way, you’re gonna
hear this song probably. Ya listening to Christmas music already? You’re like, “How can I not? “It’s on every single station now.” The marketers have figured it out. We like Christmas music. I was listening to the Heavy
Metal station last week and the played a Christmas song. I’m like “What is going on?” [audience laughs] It’s about that money. But you’re gonna here the song. “Oh come, oh come Emanuel.” Emanuel means, do you know what it means? God with us. God with us. So based on Pastor Greg’s ministry to me, based on this text,
and based on that song, and came up with just a very simple prayer that I would like you
to consider this season, especially if you’re in Nazareth. It’s real simple. Here it is. God is near me. God is with me. God is for me. Would you say that with me? God is near me. God is with me. God is for me. Let’s say it again. – [All] God is near me. God is with me. God is for me. – Some of you need to know each line is pregnant with meaning. Near me, which means he’s always been around. He’s always been looking for me. I thought I was drowning but he could see. He’s been near me. One of the prayers that you
can pray along with us is show me where you were. When you feel abandoned,
despised, forgotten, ask him that. He’s been near you. But he’s also with you, with me. He’s not just near, he’s with. And then he’s for me. It’s one thing for God to be around. ‘Cause sometimes you’re tempted to go man that happened to me. Look at what they did to me. But what if you could switch
that language a little bit? Let’s switch our prepositions. What if it’s not something happened to me, but something happened for me, that God is using it for
good, even evil things. God is near me. God is with me. God is for me. Use this prayer. Use this prayer. Friends, Nazareth is God’s word that you may feel unseen, but he sees. You may feel despised,
but you’ve been accepted. You may feel alone, but he is close. And I want you to experience that. I don’t want this just to be a head thing. I want it to be a heart thing so that it can be a life thing. So let pray and ask God to do that. So Lord, we ask in your
kindness and grace, you who knows all of our past, you who knows every hurt, all of our sins, and where we have been sinned against. You’ve been at work even before
we were born in our lives. And you have a good future for us. So we ask you to breath
hope into our Nazareth. We ask you to breath life into the parts of us that feel dead. And we ask you to help us have the best Christmas we’ve ever had, not because of presents, not even because of people, but because we see you and we know that you see us. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen.