Despite all the celebrations around us, many of us – including believers – might still be missing Christmas, if we are living in despair, feeling that God doesn't care or is not fulfilling His promises, says Pastor Brad Powell of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Mich.
Many of us say the right things about Christmas and honor it in the right way, but underneath, it's a whole different thing, said Powell on Sunday night in his sermon titled "Peace on Earth," which was part of the megachurch's "Don't Miss Christmas" series.
It's like a "plague" in most of our lives, said Powell, pastor of NorthRidge for 23 years. "Christmas is the reality of what God has provided for each and every one of us."
According to the Bible, he said, God moved heaven and earth to fulfill His promise to us, to accomplish His purposes.
The pastor reminded the congregation that a census was announced so that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem for Jesus' virgin birth, according to prophecy made about 700 years before His birth: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)
Powell then quoted Luke 2:1-5, which says, "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child."
Christmas is about God fulfilling His promise, he said. If we are celebrating Christmas, we are celebrating the fact that He never betrays us, He always fulfills His promises, and you can count on Him.
Referring to John 3:16, the pastor reminded, "God so loved the world that He sent His son…" We need His Son because He came to be a savior, to be a forgiver, to give us a new start, a new chance, he said.
However, Powell added, the world made no room for Jesus' birth – He was born in a manger. Although light, joy, love and peace have come to the world through Jesus, people are still living in darkness, hatred and chaos because they have made no room for Him, he said. "Do you want to know why your life is so messed up? That's because you have not yet made a room … for Jesus… It's not that God has not fulfilled His promise."
The problem, the megachurch pastor said, is that we are so busy and so preoccupied trying to meet the expectations of our family and friends and work that we do not have room for even one more thing, not even for Jesus.
This fact, he added, is reflected in Matthew 13:22, which says: "The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful." Many of us have the seed of the reality of Jesus Christ on Christmas, but there's no room for it to transform us because there is too much other junk that's filling our lives, he said.
Powell said he finds it unimaginable that Jesus came to sacrifice so much despite knowing that most of us would not make room for Him.
The pastor underlined that we are nothing without Jesus, but with Him we have everything, quoting John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." When we lose Jesus, we lose everything, he added, quoting Mark 8:36, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
Powell also quoted Acts 4:12: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
He said he has had problems and grief even while walking with Jesus, but no regrets at all. Jesus is with us and helps us go through difficult times, he added.
What are you allowing in your life to miss Christmas? It is business, or problems you are facing, or friends and family, or entertainment, or tragedies in the world that don't make sense, or rituals of religion that take focus away from experiencing God personally?
The solution is simple, Powell said. Open the door, he said, quoting Revelation 3:20, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."