A Child is Born
A child is born. I have to confess to you that I have been flatter and less inspired by the thought of Christmas this year than ever before. Big church move, Lily House construction, sheer exhaustion, what I consider oppressive leadership, people are more miserable than I can ever remember this Christmas.
But sometimes God speaks in the little things. I was setting up our tree, because we thought we should, and God spoke through the squeals of delight and excitement from Kayleigh and Liliana. The Lord seemed to be saying, “This is the only Christmas they get this year, let’s make it extra special.”
Yes, I agree, the world is a dark place, darker than I can ever remember, but when Jesus said,
Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Perhaps He was speaking to us for such a time as this, when we remember a child is born, and such a Christmas as this.
Christmas is a time for lights, just as the West’s. And one thing I know about lights is that you can see them better when all around is darkest. Lights shine brighter the darker it gets, and it was pretty dark for Isaiah’s people when he wrote one of the greatest Messianic prophecies ever recorded.
Isaiah painted a bleak picture. The northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen to the mighty but cruel Assyrians, and the southern Kingdom of Judah was next. There was fear and darkness all around, a sense of loss and hopelessness. God seemed distant, the country seemed ruined, the people seemed hopeless, the situation dark, but into this darkness the prophet Isaiah shone a ray of light…
Isaiah 9:2 (ESV)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Darkness in Hebrew is HSEK, meaning darkness, obscurity and night, but the second phrase deep darkness SAL-MAEWT means the shadow of death and the grave. The same word used by David in Psalm 23…
Psalms 23:4 (ESV)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
We live right now more than ever before under the shadow of death, COVID, the new variants and the draconian health directives they have spawned. Our land is covered in moral darkness, mental darkness, and spiritual darkness. We need to remember a child is born.
I looked at the sky around dusk last night. I saw one single, bright star in the enormous expanse while the rest of the sky appeared empty. A few minutes later, I looked again. This time the sky had gotten a little darker, so I could see a couple more stars. A few minutes later, I looked again. More stars. All those tiny lights reminded me of a spiritual truth: all of the stars were already in place when I looked up that very first time. I just couldn’t see them.
Today I want to remind you that God has already given us everything we need to fight, and win, the spiritual battles we are facing. We have access to the authority needed to defeat the enemy on all fronts.
But sometimes things need to get darker for us to recognise God’s hand better. God does some of his best work in the dark.
So rather than being down and flat like everyone else this Christmas, I want to declare that this is a great time to be alive today. Remember, the nature of light is that the darker the surrounds, the brighter the lights, the truth of God will shine.
Isaiah 9:2 (ESV)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
So what is this light? The light was the greatest gift mankind was ever to receive. When we were lost in our sin, separated from God, destined for hell, God Himself sent His one and only Son to die for us, in our place.
John 3:16 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Isaiah, centuries before remember a child is born in a stable in Bethlehem, prophesied
Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV)
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government (dominion) shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace (shalom)
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
I know many of you have been hurt by what our government is doing, or not doing. It’s all anyone talks and argues about right now, and it’s causing anger, fear and disunity across our community.
But let me urge you this Christmas to take your eyes off the government, the mandates, the vaccines, the media and all the darkness that stuff brings, and place them back on Jesus, and the loving gift He brought us…
Eternal life and reconnection with the God who loves you. That’s what’s really important, the reason for the season. Now, more than ever, our people need hope!
I believe that more than ever before, this Christmas we need to champion the gospel, the message of remembering a child is born. We need to shine the light of the gospel into the dark hearts of mankind. Most of you will know the story of Christmas, and next week we will share that in Scripture and carols.
But today, like Isaiah, I want to shine the light in the darkness that is 21st century Australia. Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby, grew into a man, He healed and blessed and taught us truth, then willingly chose to lay His life down to die in our place. Then He rose from death to show us that death is a conquered enemy. That’s the gospel, that’s the light, that’s the word of hope our people need!
So let’s examine how Isaiah described this incredible Christmas gift from God, centuries before it even happened.
Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
1. WONDERFUL COUNSELLOR
Mental health is out of control in our society. Job losses, business closures, long lockdowns, raised prices, masks, social distancing, any wonder mental health problems have sky rocketed in or community. Suicides, domestic violence, marriage breakdown, all of these are at the highest level we have ever experienced… because the situation is so fearful, hopeless and dark. But unto us a child is born.
If ever we needed a wonderful counsellor, it’s now!
Wonderful is PELE in Hebrew, and it is only ever used to describe God. It means wonderful, marvellous, supernaturally miraculous, beyond comprehension. PELE actually means miracle!
We have a great counselling team @ Ignite, Tim, Fiona, Shannon, Henrietta and others, but they would all agree that Jesus is the most powerful counsellor in the world. He’s miraculous, He’s wonderful, and He not only saves your soul He can also save your sanity.
If you struggle with depression, anxiety, fear or hopelessness, we can help you, but only when we operate under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the wonderful counsellor you need today, and our community needs today.
2. MIGHTY GOD
EL GIBBOR in Hebrew means God the mighty, the champion, the valiant warrior. If you look around at this world, at the fear and oppression we see about us, you might think that the devil has won.
But I declare to you today that God is still on the throne, God is still in control. He is the mighty God, ruler of Heaven and earth, and the devil is a defeated foe. The devil still has evil intent and limited power, but he ain’t going to win, because unto us a child is born!
When the allies invaded France in 1944 and established a foothold, from that moment on the Nazis were never going to win. But they kept fighting, kept on destroying and murdering, but they were a defeated foe. The devil keeps trying to kill, steal and destroy, but I declare to you that he is a defeated foe!
That why Isaiah says the government or dominion is upon His shoulder, because the true power lies not with Premiers or Prime Ministers or dictators, but with Jesus Christ. He is the light shining in our current darkness. That’s why Paul writes
Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
We feel like we are fighting governments and media, but we are actually fighting a spiritual battle against the devil and his demons. Desperate people are coming to me and asking how we can fight this great evil in our society. Letters, agitation, protests, etc are all fine, but frankly, they are not listening. The most effective way we can fight is on our knees, because in spiritual warfare prayer is our greatest weapon.
Jesus came to earth that first Christmas as a baby in a manger, but when He returns again, as He has promised, it will be as a mighty and victorious warrior on a white horse. And I believe this Christmas, that the Day of His return is soon!
3. EVERLASTING FATHER
The Isaiah describes the Son as an everlasting Father. Weird title for a baby being born, but Isaiah was seeing prophetically.
And what an important message this is for us today. Australia has long been the land of the absent father for many. Most people in our prisons for serious offences have had bad relationships with their father. Traditionally, Aussie dad’s have been too busy or down the pub with their mates to worry about the children
We all need a father. Jesus is spoken of here as the everlasting Father, showing us He is truly God. Jesus is the creator, that’s why Paul wrote,
1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV)
yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
And Jesus Himself said this…
John 8:58 (ESV)
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
This child born in a manger was and is the everlasting Father. They are one. A father should be one who provides and protects, who loves and cherishes. Someone who looks at you with love, and wants the best for you, and wants you to become all you could possibly be. And He is the enduring, everlasting Father.
This is the everlasting Father promised by Isaiah, and this one we celebrate at this time of year is that same everlasting Father we all need.
4. PRINCE OF PEACE
And finally this child born in a manger is also called the Prince of peace. Boy do we need peace right now. We have people fighting and attacking one another everywhere right now, sadly even in the church.
In the entire COVID situation, my greatest sadness is seeing Christians fight and attack one over something that is not eternal and will eventually pass. Disunity is the kryptonite of the church, and in our strong opinions and anger at what is happening, some have turned on each other. If we lose our peace, if we lose our unity, we lose our power to fight the good fight.
Colossians 3:14-15 (ESV)
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
I challenge all of us, regardless of our views on what is happening, and we all have strong views, let’s vow to keep the main thing the main thing.
Let’s pause at this time of year and recognise that the Prince of Peace came as a baby, died as a man, rose again and is seated at the right hand of God. The Prince of peace, and we need peace and unity right now!
1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
The Greek word for divisions is SCHISMA, meaning schism, a split or a gap. I urge you, whatever your strong views, do not let these split you from your church family. Let peace reign. You can choose to love those who disagree with you.
Peace is something that enables you to face anything without fear, without malice and with, most importantly, love.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jesus was, and still is, the Prince of peace. If you are agitated, fearful, worried or angry, invite the Prince of peace to fill your heart with peace today.
Isaiah says the government is upon His shoulders, so listen, stop taking it in your shoulders! You can’t change them, you can’t even make your voice heard adequately until the next election, if they don’t cancel that or lock it down, so let’s get on our knees and use the most powerful weapon we have. Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the omnipotent muscle of the almighty God! Then leave it with Him and live in supernatural peace, shining in this dark, crazy world!
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
THIS CHRISTMAS, IT’S ABOUT GIVING AND RECEIVING GIFTS
Christmas is traditionally a time of love, worship, family, gifts and lights. This year seems darker because of what is happening, but I believe this Christmas and the next year is the greatest opportunity to reach our community in our history! Never before have we had the chance to shine like this, so let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Let’s champion Jesus before our people right now. Paul said this…
Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV)
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Some years ago I stood in church at Christmas time pondering. I said, Lord, You have given us, given me so much. Eternal life, salvation, a life right with You, a home, family, job, provision. You gave Your one and only Son, the wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, and Prince of peace.
But what have I given back to You. I claim to follow You, claim to serve You, claim to love You, then I let you down. What can I give You, Lord Jesus, this Christmas?
Let me ask you that. He has given everything for you, but what are you going to give Him in return this Christmas? Now more than ever before our world needs Christians ignited and set in fire for Jesus. Is that going to be you? Are you prepared to be white hot for Jesus in 2022?
- Em. C. D. G. Em. C. D
Give me a white hot passion, burning deep within
Em. C. D
A heart that truly serves You, and intolerance of sin
. G. Em. C. D. G. Em. C. D
I have a zeal to know You, I’ll pay any price to grow
. Em. C.
Cleanse me from within and let my life begin with
White Hot Passion.
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