December 24th, 2017
ICA Sunday Pulpit Message
<Intro> The birth of baby Jesus (Lk. 2:1-20) and His growth (Lk. 2:51-52)
Women put on makeup because they want to be beautiful. I hope older ladies would also put on some lipsticks. There has been a research study that said older ladies who put on makeup are healthier and have more physical balance. Because they have better physical balance, they don’t fall down as often. Some researchers carried out this research with hundreds of ladies over 65 in France. They measured their physical balance. Ladies who put on makeup had more physical balance than ladies who don’t. There are many older people who fall down and break their hips. So I hope you can put on more lipsticks as you grow older. The researcher who carried out this study told the husbands to be patient with their wives when they are putting on makeup. Women probably want to be beautiful because of men. Women from all over the globe put on makeup and desire to be beautiful.
There is truth behind this. The church members, the bride, want to be beautiful for Jesus Christ, the groom. Besides physical beauty, God sees our inner beauty as well. It is the same for both God and people. Let’s say that a man married a woman was beautiful. However, the wife turned to become violent. The husband can’t say that his wife is beautiful anymore. It is the same for God.
Today is Christmas Eve. We will look at the birth of Christ through today’s Scripture. The Roman emperor took a census to tax the people. At that time, Joseph the husband and Mary the wife head back to their hometown. They were under Rome’s captivity. They were not free. They must have been very uncomfortable. Also, they had heavy taxation. They probably were financially burdened. They had to move from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The pregnant wife had to move carefully to Bethlehem. It probably took them a lot of time. Mary had to give birth. They didn’t know where to go. Because we are so thankful for Christ’s birth, Luke 2 seems beautiful, but, in fact, it was a hard situation. If they were in today’s time, they could do demonstration against Rome and the couple could have gotten in a fight on their way. In that difficult situation, an angel appeared with God’s glory. “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” All of a sudden, heavenly army appeared and praised. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” God’s mystery came upon this difficult time. God’s glory is mysterious. How surprising is it to see the birth of the Messiah? The sign has been fulfilled. The peace came upon this world through Baby Jesus.
What should you think about during Christmas? The world is complicated and we get stressed out. We worry about money. We are nervous all the time and we are constantly competing against others. This is the world we live in. How’s the place where the Christ laid in? It was a dark night, however, the heavenly host appeared and there were joy and peace. What should we do on Christmas? No matter how complicated the world we live in is, it is the day to restore Christ’s joy and peace. As you all know, everyday is the Lord’s day for the children of God. Likewise, everyday is Christmas. When we focus on God in the name of Jesus, believe that the heavenly host will be mobilized. You may not see it, but God’s glory will come. The sign will be fulfilled. The shepherds shared with other people. You thought evangelism was hard, but the doors of evangelism naturally open up. This is the beauty of Christ. Even if you are in the midst of failure, there will be joy and peace in Christ.
Now we will look at Jesus’ childhood. Jesus went to Jerusalem when He was 12. He left His parents. He was rebuked for that. However, He said the truth, “Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?” It is recorded in the end of Luke 2, “Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” Even though Jesus was a young boy, He gave His confession of faith and was obedient to His parents. He sincerely spoke about His thoughts to His parents and did His part well. Others liked Jesus. He had a balanced childhood. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Isaiah 53 says that Jesus had no beauty or majesty to attract people to Him. He was beautiful in His words and action. Usually, kids rebel to their parents and get scars when rebuked. However, boy Jesus sincerely confessed to His parents and was obedient to them. He grew up beautifully. This power and mystery are in Christ. So call on Jesus’ name. Then, everything will work out beautifully at the end. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” What kind of people do you want around you? Do you want someone who overworks in the beginning and burns out at the end or someone who is more fruitful at the end? You probably want the latter kind of people. We can’t do it with our strength, we can when we call upon Christ’s name. Why is Jesus so beautiful? It is because He resembles His Father. God the Father is a beautiful being.
1. God created every thing beautifully.
1) God saw everything and it was very good. (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25)
2) O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! (Ps. 8:1, Ps. 27:4)
3) You will worship God for the beautiful and holy things. (1 Chr. 16:29, Job 40:10)
God created everything beautifully. In Genesis 1, God saw the world and said it was very good. When we experience God a little bit, everything will work for the good. I hope you experience Him. I hope you would be able to confess like David, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” David staked his own life upon beautiful God. The Bible recommends us, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come before Him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.” Bring the most beautiful confession of faith to God. God is beautiful.
2. The restoration and re-creation through Christ is the greater beauty. (Lk. 6:35, Mt. 5:44)
1) The beauty that returns the evil with good (Joseph, David)
2) The beauty of faith that shines even in the darkness (Ruth, Nehemiah, Esther, Job)
3) The beauty that forgives and loves the enemy (Christ, Paul, Philemon, Onesimus)
Jesus Christ brought restoration and re-creation in this world. What did Jesus say? “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” This means that you should pay back the evil with good. All the figures in the Bible did so. Some of the representative figures are Joseph and David. Joseph’s brothers envied Joseph. They tried to kill him. Because they couldn’t do that, they sold Joseph as a slave. You know what happened later on. Joseph said, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” Like Joseph, people who serve God pay back the evil with good. King Saul tried to kill David because he envied him. Even though David could kill Saul twice, he didn’t kill him. Paying back the evil with good is beautiful.
There is the beauty of faith that shines in the darkness. There are Ruth, Nehemiah, Esther, and Job. Even though the family has been perished, Ruth made this confession, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” God allowed her to meet Boas and overturned her life. Nehemiah built the temple against much opposition. How beautiful is this? We usually say that we can’t do things because of others. Even Esther said in the midst of trial, “If I perish, I perish.” Everything worked out for the good. Job fell into disbelief at first, but later he confessed, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Hearing this confession, God blessed him two folds. Even if you are in the midst of trials, I hope you would give the confession of faith. Then, Jesus Christ, the groom, will love and embrace us.
It is about the beauty that forgives and loves the enemy. Philemon had a servant called Onesimus. That servant stole Philemon’s money and ran away. Then he got caught and sent to prison. Onesimus met Paul in the prison. He became a new person after hearing the Gospel of Christ through Paul. When Onesimus was about to set free, Paul wrote Philemon a letter and that is the Book of Philemon. “Formerly he was useless to you, buy now he has become useful both to you and to me.” If I were Philemon, I wouldn’t have accepted that plea. However, Philemon served Onesimus well. Later on, Onesimus became a pastor. That was God’s blessing. It is beautiful. We were sinners, but Christ loved us so we became the children of God. Christ has the power to restore us and re-create us. This is the utmost beauty.
3. Church is the place of beauty where all members reach their fullness.
1) We are the fragrance of Christ towards God. (2 Cor. 2:15)
2) The steps of those who share the beauty of Christ is beautiful. (1 Pet. 2:9, Rom. 10:15, Is. 52:7)
3) The position of the person who serves well as a layleader is beautiful. (1 Tim. 3:13)
Church is a beautiful place where the body of Christ becomes full. Although we have our old nature, we try to do the good deeds and strive to be beautiful. God sees us and blesses us. That is the reason why Jesus came. That is the way we need to spend the Christmas day. 2 Corinthians 2 says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
Sometimes we get mad in front of nonbelievers. Sometimes nonbelievers take advantage of the church members. We are absolutely at a loss. We must take that loss and spread the pleasing aroma to the nonbelievers. God sees those beautiful souls and blesses them. God is an accurate God. He is never at loss. He doesn’t allow His children to be at loss. I will make a resolution. I will try to be beautiful in front of the church members and nonbelievers. Why is that? It is because I have to share the Gospel with them. That is why 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Romans 10 says that the feet of the ones who share the Gospel are beautiful. Because we have to share this Gospel, we need to find the beauty of Christ.
There is one more important thing in church. It is 1 Timothy 3, “”Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” Today, we are anointing church overseers. When you carry out the work of a deacon well, God blesses you. Sometimes when we go through our walk of faith, we realize something in our heads, but can’t put in action because we are afraid and nervous. God will give you the courage to act out your faith. I hope you will be victorious. How can you carry out the task well? You must first receive the grace of God. You need to enjoy the Gospel. Volunteer with the peace, joy, and power from God. Start with the grace that God gives and end with love. Do not start things with mere motivation, hard-working, and jealousy; they will end with complaints and resentment. You should grab hold of the covenant. I am saved for the beauty of Christ. I exist for the beauty of Christ. “Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High.”
<Conc.> Let us go through the beautiful covenant journey towards heaven, which is the ultimate beauty. (2 Tim. 4:7-8)
Eventually, we will enter into the beautiful heaven. We will not get stressed in heaven. We don’t have to worry about bills. God has prepared us the perfect place. The journey to that place is the covenant journey. As you go along this journey, I hope you leave behind many beautiful souls. Although Satan tries to leave behind scars and resentment, remember the beauty of Christ. How is this possible? It is possible because of Christ’s power to resurrect. Imagine you were nailed on the cross. Christ was under severe pain and suffering. However, He resurrected. He restored His glory. He was seated at the right hand of the Father. Everything worked for the good. The power of resurrection can overturn everything. How? When we pray and wait, God works. I hope you could reveal the glory of God and be grateful to God.
Dear God, we give You thanks. We accept Christ who is the epitome of beauty. Please cleanse our hearts and remodel them. We confess that Christ is the way to meet God. You freed us from all sins and curses. You are the King who broke the forces of death of Satan. Please guide us until the end. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.