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Giving Up Christmas - Part 2, Christmas Control
Miles McPherson - December 11, 2016

Message Recap

We all feel at some point that we were made for something greater than what we are or what we currently have - that there is more to life than what we are experiencing. This is true because God has placed eternity in us, a yearning for heaven. 

We all feel at some point that we were made for something greater than what we are or what we currently have - that there is more to life than what we are experiencing.

But how do we get there? We don’t fulfill this yearning by clamoring for more, pursuing the wrong things, or pursuing things in the wrong way. 

The ruling principle in heaven is peace, which is in alignment with the kingdom of God and the authority of God. But the ruling principle on earth is control, where we strive to be our own authorities, to get what we want, when we want it, in the way we want it. In this way, heaven and earth are always in conflict. 

Allowing God to come into your life can bring blessing and fulfill the yearning you have, but if you have an earthly, “you-don’t-own-me” philosophy, you’ll be in conflict with Jesus, because the only way we can have what God wants for us is to surrender control to Him. Our culture pushes God away and pushes Him out of Christmas because admitting there is a God is an admission of authority and a need for surrender. (But ignoring God doesn’t make His authority go away, any more than not believing in the speed limit will help you avoid a speeding ticket or not believing in taxes will give you an exemption with the IRS!)

Today’s passage from Matthew 2 is a contrast of two kings: Herod, who tries to assume and maintain control of his kingdom, and Jesus, who simply receives His kingship. When Jesus is born into His prophesied, divinely appointed kingship, Herod is in control on earth. Herod, who became king at a young age, is paranoid and wants to maintain control through violence toward anyone who threatens his power. He lies, cheats, and murders to stay in charge. 

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
  Matthew 2:1-18

Will you choose to be like Herod, trying to assume and maintain your kingship by controlling everything, or will you, by faith, surrender control to God and accept the life He wants for you?

1. I need to release control of ______________ to God. Matthew 11:28-30

There are certain parts of your life that are not what they should be. They may even bring pain into your life. Do you have relationships that you’d like to be blessed? Release control of them to God and be ready and willing to receive what God has to say to you. He is likely not going to just “fix” the other person, but direct you to act, say, or think differently. He may even ask you to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”  Are you willing to do as He asks?

Whatever you are so desperately trying to control, let it go and allow God to direct you. Surrender control and have faith that God has the best idea - for your body, your career, your heart, your creativity, your finances, your relationships, etc.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (emphasis added)

The “rest” of which Jesus speaks is not merely a good night’s sleep. It is real peace and the removal of the heaviness in your heart. You don’t have to strive and take control to get that which you think will make you happy. He wants you to experience rest for your soul.

2. I was born into the greatness of _______________. Jeremiah 1:5

In your heart, you may think you were destined for “greatness,” being on TV, having success in your business, being discovered, getting rich, etc., but there is something far greater than any of these that God definitely wants you to have: a relationship with Him. One of the greatest things you can be is someone who represents the glory, power, love, and forgiveness of God on the earth, that people would have a glimpse of His love for them just by meeting you. If you can do that, then you won’t be caught up in all the worldly things that don’t really lead to peace or fulfillment. 

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

3. I surrender the battle of ______________ to God. Proverbs 21:31

What battles are you fighting every day? Battles of the mind, pride, ego, lust, discouragement? The Bible tells us the the Lord is the one who delivers us from battle. 

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the LORD. Proverbs 21:31

Jesus did not have to do anything in order assume His kingship. He was a baby! He slid right into His calling because it was ordained by the Lord. As He grew, He didn’t have to claw His way to greatness; He simply spent time with the Father and He did great things in God’s name.

God has a calling and a plan for you as well, so let God give you what He wants you to have and let go of your struggles. 

This can mean, “God I’m having a conflict. Will you help me fight this battle?” It doesn’t mean that you are asking God to beat the other person down, but instead asking for healing. Ask God to deliver you from your financial struggles by providing for you and giving you direction. Ask Him to purify your thoughts. 

Pastor Miles’ challenge today is to think about the things to which you are holding on, or things for which you are striving in your own control - and to let them go. Trust God to give you the best He has for you rather than struggling for the things you think are best for yourself. Surrender to the God who loves you.

Giving Up Christmas

This 4-part series examines the true meaning of Christmas and how we can refocus on Jesus. In Part 2, Pastor Miles encourages us to surrender complete control of our lives to God to pursue what God has for us, God's way.

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