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well good morning south I’m excited to be here with you today how about the student worship team this morning they did an amazing job uh they’ve been working uh so hard and just even a few months ago they started practicing and playing and just have done a great job leading us and so it’s such a joy to have them in here it’s been a joy for me to be back working with the students here at south I gotta had the privilege of being on staff here from 2015 to 19 and I was able to come back three months ago and working with these students an amazing team of volunteers great group of students that bring so much joy to me and to my wife who was also up here this morning singing which was awesome just so thankful for her and sharing her gifts with us today we also have one little guy named cooper he’s a year and a half now and usually

he’s here running around somewhere but this morning he’s home with grandma and so he had quite the start to his journey and I want to start off this morning just by asking you where were you on may 31st 2019 maybe that was just a random day to you if you think about it last year but to my wife hannah and I it was a day that changed everything for us uh hannah was 34 weeks pregnant at the time and we had both just finished our teaching for the year and we finished up our teacher work days and so that first day of summer break and I had still had to go up to school to lead a workout that I was doing as a coach and so hannah was going to stay home and sleep in that morning but she didn’t really feel that great she maybe thought it was something that she had ate and so I went into work and about 7 15 she called and she said she

wasn’t feeling well and she had called the doctor and they say you know just to be cautious you better come in um it’ll just be like a 20 minute appointment you’ll be fine and you’ll be able to go home so she calls me and tells me that she says I think I’m going to drive myself into the hospital and I you know being the supportive and caring husband that I am I said okay great um what I should have said was I will leave work right now go and pick you up and drive you in as it turns out she was having contractions two minutes apart driving herself to the hospital while I’m just off at work well at eight o’clock she calls me and says you know it appears the baby’s coming today and I said you know I’m swamped here at work I hope everything goes well no I did not say that I I at that time I got the hand I did come in and about 8 30 got there we went

back and by 2 pm cooper was born six weeks early um and that was a day that changed everything for our lives perhaps you can relate or to recall a certain day or period of days of your life that changed everything maybe it was graduating school or getting married having a child maybe even losing a loved one or having a job transition moving across the country these moments change our lives and I think in 2020 we’ve all had a few days like that maybe it’s not a certain day but I remember the week in march when life completely changed for us one by one things started to shut down and our gatherings our schools our sporting events church gatherings changed overnight it changed everything and even as things have started to reopen we still experience and feel those changes today well this morning we’re going to be looking at

an event and a person who has changed everything we are continuing on in our advent conspiracy series it’s been a four-week series in the first three weeks pastor alex has led us through uh the themes of worship fully to spend well and give more and this morning we’re going to be looking at the theme of love all the christmas season even in a pandemic can feel stressful and busy our hearts can feel weary and tired I’ve really enjoyed this series and been challenged and encouraged to reorient our lives on what is really important in this christmas season advent is a time of waiting time of hope it’s a time of preparing our hearts for the coming messiah it’s a reminder that even in a crazy and unsettling year our hope is anchored in our lord and savior Jesus christ who entered into our story to bring us the true peace and joy

that we long for and so this morning I want to begin with the claim that Jesus changes everything whereas the birth of our cooper certainly changed my wife and I’s lives and maybe those of you around us at church or the people that live next to us in our apartment when he’s crying in the middle of the night other than that I don’t think it may be affected your life as much but we all have events that do change our lives and this Jesus story that we celebrate at christmas time can truly change each and every one of our lives both individually and collectively and so this morning I want to dig into this and really look at how Jesus changes and transforms us from the inside out and so for the next two hours and 45 minutes we’re just really going to be digging in and no we’re not but my wife can tell you uh sometimes I can be

pretty difficult I’m a verbal processor I ask a lot of questions many nights will be lying in bed trying to fall asleep and I’ll be talking and trying to solve life’s problems for 15 or 20 minutes only to look over to discover that she’s fallen asleep my mind works that way I question things I can overthink things I ask questions maybe you do too and so this claim Jesus changes everything you walked in today and you saw in big letters our church’s mission statement living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus and we really believe that but whether you’ve been coming to church for a long time or if this is your first time coming in or tuning in online you might be wondering does Jesus actually change everything does this baby born in a manger over 2000 years ago truly changed my life and if so how how does Jesus’s birth and life impact

our everyday lives and relationships I think these questions are really important for us to to dig into and so we’re going to start with with these two questions this morning what is the story of Jesus and who is it for what is the story of Jesus and who is it for growing up I had a pretty good understanding of the bible of certain bible characters and stories but I think I struggled to see how it all connected I could tell you about david and abraham and noah and even Jesus but I didn’t really know how that all fit together the old testament seemed to have some cool and some weird stories and then bam Jesus came in the new testament and to me it didn’t seem all that connected and I’m really grateful to have great family and friends and professors who have really helped me understand scripture and I’m still learning and growing I’ve come across a

great website that I’ve shared with the students they know I love this site which I highly recommend but I began to see the bible to borrow their phrase as one unified story that leads to Jesus the old testament was not just a bunch of random unconnected stories but it was one story that was pointing and leading to the main event of Jesus christ when Jesus shows up on the scene he’s not just randomly entering the story he’s the long-awaited messiah come to save us from our sins and I’ve shared this with the students over the years and even in a sermon a few years ago here but I think it’s so important for us to know the story of scripture it begins with creation all the way back in genesis that God creates this world and we see the original design of humanity being created in God’s own image and in relationship with him in

just chapter 3 we see that corruption enters the picture as adam and eve sin and yet even in the midst of devastating consequences for sin that we all experience still today God extends grace in genesis 3 15 God in talking with the serpent in the garden promises an offspring of eve who will crush satan’s head and defeat evil much later in the story this offspring is referring to Jesus who would come onto the scene much later who would die on a cross and rise again we see this promise all the way back at the beginning of the story and the story continues through a series of covenants or partnerships that God makes with humanity with his people they serve as kind of the backbone of the story of scripture and they show how God pursues humanity each of them anticipate and point forward to the coming of christ God promises to noah that

despite humanity’s sin and evil he will never destroy the earth again he promises to abraham that through his offspring all nations of the earth would be blessed he later rescues israel from slavery and he gives them the law and promises to make them his holy set apart nation as they were meant to represent him to all the nations God promises david that a king would come from his lineage who would reign forever and extend God’s justice for all the covenants with abraham israel and david also had conditional elements that the people had to obey and while God’s chosen people time and time again do not fulfill their end of the deal God remains faithful to his promises and as the old testament continues and the story unfolds israel continues to wait with hope and longing the prophets talked about a day when the messiah would come and

the old testament ends and he had not come and so they waited 400 years past maybe God has forgotten his promises and then on to the scene comes Jesus christ that God is faithful that we celebrate at christmas his birth and is coming into humanity the God of the universe out of his deep love for us enters into our story bringing hope the messiah comes into our mess emmanuel God with us this baby fully God and fully man born in a humble manger he grows up he doesn’t stay in that manger he grows as a carpenter he begins his public ministry healing the sick and teaching with authority living a perfect life spending time with the poor and outcasts elevating those who are humble he fulfills each of the covenants he’s from the family of abraham who has come to bless the whole world he’s the perfect israelite who fully obeys the

law and he is in the line of david the king who extends God’s kingdom of justice and peace to all and will reign forever and this king is killed on a cross the savior of the world dying for sin God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God out of his deep love he dies on a cross while we were still sinners christ died for us but he doesn’t stay in the tomb Jesus rises from the dead on the third day conquering death and giving us hope through faith in him we can be in a relationship with God in his resurrection that we celebrate at easter time he later ascends into heaven sending the holy spirit to guide and direct us in our lives and the church is established and much of the new testament is letters written to these churches and individuals showing them and us how to live on mission as his disciples

living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus all the while we wait with hope and longing once again because Jesus is going to come back finally and fully defeating evil once for all and those who trust in Jesus will spend eternity with God and the new heavens and the new earth where there will be no more pain or suffering and this is the culmination of God’s perfect plan this is great news this is the christmas story it doesn’t end in a manger it’s a story of creation to the cross to the culmination of God’s plan in the future and this is our hope and the question remains then well who is this story for if you’ll turn with me this morning to luke chapter we’re going to dig in together luke chapter 2 throughout this series we’ve looked at part of this wonderful story this wonderful chapter the story of Jesus birth Jesus is born and the angels say

to the shepherds in luke 2 verses 10 and 11 do not be afraid I bring you good news that will cause you great joy for all the people today in the town of david a savior has been born to you he is messiah the lord this will be assigned to you you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger great joy for all people this story continues as Jesus a little bit later on is presented in the temple and so if you’ll turn with me to luke 2 verses 22-24 here’s what we read when the time came for the purification rites required by the law of moses joseph and mary took him to jerusalem to present him to the lord as it is written in the law of the lord every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the lord and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the law of the lord a pair of doves or two young pigeons these three verses are

strategic by luke as he specifically mentions the law and shows that Jesus obeys and fulfills the law of moses but then he’ll continue on to show how Jesus’s life is important for both jews and the gentiles for all people let’s continue reading in verses 25-28 now there was a man in jerusalem called simeon who was righteous and devout he was waiting for the consolation of israel and the holy spirit was on him it had been revealed to him by the holy spirit that he would not die before he had seen the lord’s messiah moved by the spirit he went into the temple courts when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the law required simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying and now but before we get into simeon’s words we need to introduce this character named simeon we don’t know a lot

about him but we see that he is righteous and devout the holy spirit is on him as he waits with anticipation for God to come and rescue israel he was told that he would not die before seeing the messiah the spirit guides him into the temple and after years and years of waiting he gets to hold the savior of the world in his arms can you imagine what he must have been feeling and experiencing and then he says these words verses 29-32 sovereign lord as you have promised you may now dismiss your servant and peace for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all nations a light for gentile to the light for revelation to the gentiles and the glory of your people israel salvation has been prepared in the sight of all nations for all people to the gentiles the non-jews and to the people of israel God’s love is

expansive it’s not limited to one people group or one geographical area but it’s for all people and we all have a need for a savior have a need for grace before closing simeon offers some closing comments of the divided response that Jesus would experience in his life verses 33 through 35 the child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him then simeon blessed them and said to mary his mother the child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in israel and to be a sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed and a sword will pierce your own soul too simeon mentions the falling and rising of many in israel the reality is that some will reject Jesus while others would accept him and his good news of salvation some would oppose him and this would eventually lead him to

die on a cross and that would lead to sorrow for mary not all will respond in faith to Jesus’s free gift of love and grace and this brings us back to our our questions for today what is the story of Jesus and who is it for the story of Jesus is the good news of the long-awaited messiah entering into our story bringing hope and the free offer of salvation to all made available by faith the story of scripture is the story of God’s deep love for us that can change everything about us and in our time remaining I want us to see very practically how Jesus changes everything about us no matter how you came in today tired or weary overwhelmed relieved excited anything in between I believe that Jesus can change our lives and speak hope and life into all areas of our lives and so first we see that Jesus changes everything by transforming our stories we all enter

today with a story we’re all unique it’s one of the reasons I love working with students to partner with them on their story on their journey and point them to Jesus we long for our stories to matter and to have importance and yet I think we all wonder at times if our stories are all that important we might be stuck in the mundane or the ordinary routine of life doing the same thing over and over and wondering if it makes any difference we might have walked in today having felt shame and sadness about something in our past maybe this year brought a job transition or a loss of a loved one maybe we feel hopeless or scared about what is to come maybe we feel like God could never use us or never work through us and yet God can transform our stories I’d love for you to turn with me to matthew chapter 1. matthew chapter 1 the first

chapter in the new testament and perhaps if you come there you will see what appears on the surface to be the most boring chapter of the bible a genealogy a list of names so and so the son of so-and-so the son of so-and-so and on and on and on I remember reading that growing up being like wow this is boring um but in reality this is one of the most incredible chapters in the whole bible take a moment and glance over some of those names this is Jesus’s genealogy his lineage as you look through this list we see some names that we recognize abraham and david we might assume that his lineage is only full of important and well-known people people that have their lives all figured out and who are famous and yet that’s not what we find at all glance through this list with me in just a few of these names abraham a man of great faith certainly yet

a man who doubted at times and lied by saying his wife was his sister on two occasions judah joseph’s brother who suggested that they sell their brother into slavery rahab a gentile a former prostitute who acted courageously and was welcomed into God’s family ruth a former widow david a man after God’s own heart and yet a man who committed deep sin and we could go on and on these people are all part of God’s story part of his family they’re the family lineage of Jesus christ and these stories are wide-ranging and far across the spectrum and yet God transforms all of them and here is what we see through this that God works through imperfect and ordinary people to accomplish his perfect and extraordinary plan and I don’t know about you but that’s wonderful news to me the christmas story is a reminder that God can transform

our stories and invite us into his wonderful story that we get to join with him in spreading hope and love to others I love this quote from pastor and author rich velodes and he says this I’m deeply grateful that scripture isn’t a collection of sanitized stories for holy people of holy people it’s rather a collection of stories of ordinary broken people loved by God and made holy through a righteousness outside of themselves that’s great news broken ordinary people that God loves deeply and uses powerfully secondly that we see that Jesus changes everything by transforming our identities I believe we’re in a time where one of the most pressing questions is who are we the question of identity it’s so important for both students and adults alike it’s very easy to define ourselves by what we do or what we have done our jobs our career our income our

athletic ability our grades our achievements and yet none of these things can truly define who we are at our core perhaps for you 2020 rattled your identity a bit things that we thought were so sure our job our health our income have been altered in a year that brought a lot of change we can cling to the fact that we have our true identity in Jesus christ as we read in second corinthians 5 17 therefore if anyone is in christ the new creation has come the old has gone and the new is here by faith we are made new in Jesus we are part of his family we are God’s workmanship heirs of God members of the body of christ God’s children this is what is true about us even when we get tempted to believe lies about who we are we can always rest in what is most true about us in Jesus we find our true identity throughout his ministry Jesus

consistently transformed identities I think of the disciples people from a variety of backgrounds and situations and professions fishermen a tax collector and he transformed them to be his disciples his followers I think of Jesus’s interaction with the woman at the well in john 4 towards the beginning of his public ministry in this encounter she went from someone who was ashamed and rejected by others a woman who had had five husbands and now was living with a man who was not her husband to a woman who had met Jesus she leaves this encounter running into town telling people about Jesus and he can transform our identity too hebrews 13 8 says Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever he doesn’t just change us individually but collectively as well we now belong to one another in the body of christ first peter 2 says we 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 we’re not designed to do life alone but instead together with each other and while this pandemic has caused us to have to navigate new guidelines and restrictions limitations let us press into doing life together we might have to get creative with a phone call or a zoom but we need each other as we live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus as Jesus unites us together across our differences the last thing that Jesus changes everything he transforms our stories our identities and lastly our hearts throughout the story of scripture we see the deep love of God for us he’s faithful to his promises and he pursues us relentlessly the christmas story is evidence of that love Jesus

entering into our story as paul writes so powerfully in romans 8 38-39 for I am convinced that neither death nor life neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future nor any powers neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in christ Jesus our lord nothing in all creation can separate us from his love not a pandemic not a sickness loss of a loved one a hard year nothing in him we find the love that we so desperately need and long for in him we are fully known and fully loved and it is from this place of being loved that we extend love to others today we’re in week four of the advent conspiracy series and the theme is to love all we’re invited to use the gifts and the resources that God has given us to love others worship fully spend well give more and love all I

wanted to spend the majority of the message today just talking about what Jesus has done for us that he truly does change everything our stories our identities our hearts and the christmas story is not just about some baby in some manger a couple thousand years ago the story is for all people and brings the true hope peace love and joy that we crave and need in his life death and resurrection Jesus is inviting us into his family ephesians 5 1 and 2 are two of my favorite verses in all of scripture and I think they tie this whole theme together well of today and from this series paul writes this follow God’s example therefore as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love just as christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God I love how paul writes exactly who we are dearly loved children and as dearly

loved children then he offers the command to walk in the way of love and that’s how we’re called to live and this christmas we’re invited into an opportunity to love those around us as pastor amy mentioned in the kids moment to love those who are different from us to love those who may be hard to love to love those in our immediate family those close to us our friends and relatives it might be a little different this year but we are called to love as Jesus loved sacrificially and generously one of my favorite authors is bob goff I love his books love does and everybody always and he puts it this way Jesus talked to his friends a lot about how we should identify ourselves he said it wouldn’t be what we said we believed or all the good we hoped to do someday nope he said we would identify ourselves simply by how we loved people

it’s tempting to think there’s more to it but there’s not love isn’t something we fall into love is someone we become I love that quote we’re called to love those around us with everything that we have using the gifts and the time and the resources that we have to encourage to bring hope in this christmas season I’ll throw in one more quote because I like him a lot but he says this don’t save up love like you’re trying to retire on it give it away like you’re made of it and that’s my challenge to each of us today I don’t know what that looks like exactly for you and we have to be smart and consider it in the season with the pandemic but it starts in our home in our family with our roommates spread to our communities our neighborhoods our schools our city our state and beyond as first john 4 19 says we love because he first loved us and that

changes everything let’s pray dearly father I thank you so much for today I thank you each for each person who could be here and joining in online I pray lord that you would wrap us in your arms that we would experience your love that this christmas season and what has been a hard and trying year I pray that each and every one of us would feel and experience your love and we would spread that love with boldness and generosity to those around us we thank you for what you’ve done for us in Jesus name amen thank you so much billy I just love this staff team here it’s just so incredible to have so many people that can do so many things and and billy’s been working along with hannah with our students for the last three months as he said and he’s been doing that part-time while he’s also teaching while also coaching basketball and here’s the

amazing thing when you throw out the word part-time that always gets me I used to do that role as well and yeah I never preached half a sermon I never sat through half a counseling session I was never at half an event it was always full time as well so I’m so appreciative of of both of you guys for all that you’re doing with with our students uh I just wanted to do something that’s a little in-house at the moment um many of you all know carolyn schmidt she’s a dear friend of south and and carolyn has has covered at the moment and she’s in icu um and we wanted to just gather as a community and pray for her um would we do that for everyone maybe um will we do it for carolyn definitely I just like her more than I like you guys no I’m joking I just prefer her to no it’s but I do want to just gather and just be thankful for

carolyn and the 64 years that she’s been involved in this community for eric and she and she they’re here every week and it’s just an incredible blessing to our community so we’re just going to gather and pause God when we don’t know how to pray we’re told that you pray through us with groanings with moanings with words that we don’t understand and we are jealous for carolyn she is our dear friend and we love her and we pray that you will bring healing to her we’re thankful for this story that she has with you that she has this eternal security in you that you’d love her and you know her but we love her and long for her to be with us and so we pray for your healing now we pray that you bring strength to our body we pray for wisdom for doctors that the doctors and nurses that are working with it today I pray

that they would be wide awake well hydrated strong able to think things through able to hear from you even if they’re not aware of it I pray they will be guided by wisdom from above and the decisions that they make we thank you for people like that all over the country all over the world that are helping people deal with kovid and all other sicknesses and so we pray for each person in our community too that is sick right now thank you that you God of healing but we do pray for our friend carolyn make us strong thank you Jesus amen I’m going to close us with the benediction that billy gave in the first service it’s from ephesians chapter 3 I pray that out of his glorious riches God may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being so that christ may dwell in your hearts through faith and I pray that you being rooted and established

in love may have power together with all God’s people to grasp how wide how long and how high that love really is this morning maybe you go with that love may you know it and may you share it with the world around you boldly and confidently go in peace friends have a great sunday

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