12/23/18 “A Safe Messiah”

The title this morning is “A Safe Messiah.” I’m actually going to start by reading something from C. S. Lewis, and then I’m going to get into the Scriptures. Many of you know his classic work, The Screwtape Letters. It’s fictional about the demonic realm, one demon writing to another demon on how to pull Christians away from their walk with the Lord. He was talking about this time of Christmas, and the demon said this:

We have grown quite fond of how the humans celebrate the horrid anniversary. We love caroling with them, feasting with them, exchanging presents, decorating, and watching movies. While you would have us take the holiday through the shadows and licking our wounds, we have regained lost ground. Can you not observe our influence? The pine trees and presents, mistletoes and twinkling lights, Santa and snowmen, sugar cookies and family cheer. We’ve hidden the child beneath many straws of hay . . . swapping their gifts with one another, never noticing the bright star that leads to Bethlehem.

We need not Scrooge at such festivities. Let “visions of sugar plums dance in their heads.” Buy Tiny Tim a turkey. Invite them near to roast chestnuts over the open fire! The infant escaped two thousand years ago, but we have found other ways to dispose of him . . . Sing about Rudolph’s red nose and “Jingle Bells”. . . Encourage them to attend their annual church service (check the registry for safe services). Focus their attention inward. Fill their bursting schedules with anything but humble adoration. Let no one look upon the child. Never let them worship the unsanitized Messiah . . . Do not let them pray together, and read Scripture together. Keep it good-humored [keep it] shallow, [keep it] safe. – Your festive uncle Wormwood

Talking about a safe Messiah, sanitizing Jesus. And as we know, safe means protected from danger or risk, not likely to harm or lose anything. Sanitize can be a good thing, right? We sanitize our bathrooms, our homes, and that means “to alter something, regard it as less acceptable; to make it more palatable,” or to make it taste better. Do you know that’s why they put sugar in things? To make it taste better. Try dipping broccoli in sugar. Give it to your kids – they’ll like it better. We make this palatable.

And here’s what’s happening. If the culture can’t get rid of Jesus, they’re going to make Him safe, a safe Messiah. If we can’t remove Him, let’s keep Him safe. So what we do is we avoid dangerous or risky statements. Don’t talk about being harmed or lost.

And I like what he said here: “Check the register for safe services.” Safe church services. Do you know demons don’t mind if you go to church, as long as you don’t talk about the things that are spiritually unsettling, as long as you don’t rattle cages? But you can go and just hear a motivational sermon. And I believe churches should be welcoming, loving, gracious, and patient, but we cannot be safe from sin or avoid sin. We can’t try to make it not taste bad. We have to just let it speak what the Bible says. The biblical imagery of Jesus is this: He’s a lamb, correct? But He’s also a lion. He’s an ointment that heals but also a sword that pierces. He’s an advocate, but He’s also a judge.

So a question this morning is do you feel safe meeting Him? This is a really good test, even for those in church. Do you feel safe meeting Jesus? That speaks a lot. Because if we say, “You know, Shane, I don’t feel safe. I don’t want to meet Him. I’m dreading that day,” then we really need to check where our heart is at. Is it fear and trepidation for meeting the Judge, or is it a joy to stand before the King of Kings who set you free?

So now I’m going to read from Luke, and a funny thing happened this week. As I was going to read through the whole story, I stopped. I read Luke 1:26–35, and I couldn’t get any further. There’s just so much there. And I hate to rush through Scripture just to rush through it. Well, let’s read through the whole Christmas story. But what if God is speaking to us in one point?

So Christ’s birth is announced to Mary, Luke 1:26:

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth.

So keep this in mind.

To a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. (v. 26)

They were supposed to get married, like an engagement.

The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (vv. 27–28).

Can you imagine an angel telling you that? What is this? What kind of greeting is this? And that’s what she says:

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (vv. 29–33)

This is a very safe kingdom no enemy can enter.

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (vv. 34–35)

Now let’s stop there for a minute. That’s a lot for a young girl to process; I’m sure she would begin to doubt certain things. But there’s a lot I want to pick up from this.

Number one, and we talk about this a lot, but the reason for the season is actually this: to rejoice. “The Lord is with you!” “Rejoice, Mary, the Lord is with you,” and it could be the same point of application for us: Rejoice, the Lord is with you. What does that mean? You are safe. A very safe Messiah, if you know Him. A very safe Messiah.

The Scripture says here, “He will be called Jesus.” That name is Savior, Rescuer, Redeemer.

And then a kingdom with no end, “the government will be upon His shoulders.” This part here where it says, “A kingdom with no end,” and we’re going to reference Isaiah 9:6, “The government will be upon His shoulders.” Now he’s not talking about the United States of America or Russia or China. The governmental authority, all authority, is given to the Son. All authority rests on Jesus Christ. So let’s pull from Isaiah 9:6 (NIV):

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

So think about this. Seven hundred years before Jesus’s birth, Isaiah is writing about Christ. He said:

The government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

So let’s talk about this first one, All authority.  I came across an inscription of Sennacherib. Do you know who that was? Some of you who study the Bible might know. He was the Assyrian king who was going to conquer Jerusalem, conquer Hezekiah, and he came up to the gates of Jerusalem. He mocked Hezekiah, he mocked the children of God, and he said, “We’re going to devour you. We’re going to kill you.” And this is an inscription of him in Assyria. It reads this: “The great king, the king unrivalled, the protector of the just, the noble warrior.” That’s what they subscribe to an earthly king. And how much more to Christ Himself? Because we all know what happened to this Assyrian army outside of Jerusalem. One angel, one death angel, slew 185,000 of the Assyrian army. So whose authority is really there? Whose authority? This man or Christ? So all authority is given to the Son.

And then we see Wonderful Counselor. What does this mean? Indescribable, all wisdom and knowledge flow from Him. So there’s division Isaiah is casting for us. Wonderful counselor, all authority. Think about this. I was thinking about this this morning. All authority. What army can come against God? The Egyptians? What happened to them? The Babylonians? What happened to them? The Assyrians? What happened to them? What army can come against God? Gravity has to listen to the Savior. The laws of thermodynamics, first and second law, have to listen to the Savior. When Joshua prayed, God said, “Sun, stand still.” He breaks all types of physical laws. What army? What can come against this God?

That should cause some excitement, not Christmas gloom. All authority is given to the Son, so no matter what you’re dealing with, no matter what family challenges are going to happen in two days, all authority is given to the Son. You have to remember that because the enemy will plant seeds of doubt, seeds of discouragement, seeds of failure, and you have to remember that greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world. The same authority that raised Christ from the dead, the same power of the Holy Spirit, that authority—and it’s not in you, it’s in Jesus’s name. In Jesus’s name we pray these things. In Jesus’s name. They would say, “Demon, you are removed from this lady in Jesus’s name.” The authority, and I try to get Christians to realize that all the time. It’s not the devil and God or Jesus and the angels battling it out. They’ve been defeated. All authority has been given to the Son.

Then Mighty God. Might, power, and strength. So Isaiah summed it up. This God will be a mighty God. I even looked for words to describe that. There are no words. How do you describe unfathomable might? Unsearchable riches? Unsearchable knowledge? Wisdom. Magnificent. Awesome. Do you know that word was originally supposed to be in the framework of describing God? Awesome. I’m just in awe. I don’t know what to say. It’s just too awesome to describe.

And then Everlasting Father, which of course equals Prince of Prince.

Something we saw here too, the virgin birth. Now this is a stumbling block for many people. Have you ever talked to people [about Jesus]? This is a stumbling block for atheists, for agnostics, for whomever—the virgin birth. But with God nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible. Did you hear that, balcony? Nothing is impossible.

Come on, Sunday morning. Christmas, we’ve got to wake up. I’m going to have to sit down and put worship back up if we don’t wake up a little bit here. Is Scrooge in here? I’m going to cast out that spirit of Scrooge. There’s not a spirit, don’t worry. But there is sometimes the demonic that will oppress people and take our joy, rob us of the joy that is God-given. Do you know a fruit of the Spirit is frumpiness? Is that a word? Frumpy? Discouraged? No, fruit of the Spirit is joy, thankfulness. And I think we need to take a minute and just remember what God has done for us. If you are a believer, what has God done for you? There should be tremendous joy.

The virgin birth. I love that God takes nothing and makes something, and with Him, nothing is impossible. He takes a least likely, this poor teenager—how do you know she was poor? Well, because they offered turtledoves, doves, for the sacrifice. That was what the poorest people had to offer—so, you take a young girl, poor, and the Holy Spirit comes upon her, and here’s the Messiah. The Messiah then is come from Bethlehem. No good thing comes from Bethlehem. Born in an inn with animals.

God would take Saul, who would become king. Saul said, “I’m the smallest of the Benjamites.” To David He said, “I’m going to put My anointing on you.” Samuel said, “Not this guy. Look at this guy, God. Look at his brother.” And God said, “No, he has My heart. Go and anoint David.” And David said, “Who am I? I’m the least in my father’s home.” And then God pulls and grabs tax collectors and sinners and harlots. Did you know that in the line of Christ there’s a harlot by the name of Rahab? He takes the least likely. That’s a lot to get excited about. People say, “How can this be? How can that be, Shane?” Because man looks at the outward appearance. God doesn’t care what you look like. He wants to see your heart. Give Me the heart, and I’ll take it, and I will do something amazing in that person. Why? Because He wants to confound the wise.

And people say, “Shane, if we can just get Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, and George Clooney to become Christians, can you imagine?” God says, No, I’m going to go to North Carolina. I’m going to grab a farm boy, and I’m going to exalt him to the highest pastor position that’s ever been in our nation, and he’ll preach the gospel. I’m going to take an uneducated whatever and have them write books and speak to the masses. I’m going to take somebody who is a nothing, and I’m going to showcase them. Why? Because you look and say, “God gets all the glory,” every ounce of glory, and you bow to God, not yourself.

Can you imagine if I came up here and said, “I’m going to preach to you this morning. I just recently got my PhD at Westminster Theological Seminary. I’ve got an undergrad at Harvard. I’ve written fourteen periodicals this week. I’m studying Greek and Hebrew in my spare time. I’ve got my bachelor’s here and my this here.” I’m not against any of that, but you better not go up in that strength. God does <?> things. People look at that like, “How is that possible?” Right, because you’re gauging it by appearance, by pedigree, by education, by status. You look at that and ask how, and God says, “No, I’m going to take a nobody and lift them up, put My Spirit upon them, and have them do great things, so when they get to the end of their lives they can say, ‘If it wasn’t for the grace of God, there go I.’” Everything that God has ever done through me or through you that is powerful is because of the direct result of the Holy Spirit of God and His favor.  

So He loves to take the least likely, and what the enemy wants to do is use that against you. You’ll never do that. That dream you have? That dream in ministry or that call you think you have? Who do you think you are? Who do you think you are? And actually that’s a person that God uses.

Funny story. I’ve told you this before, but it fits. I just thought of it. There was a position open for a pastor of a young adult’s area of a church here locally, a big church. And I went in and inquired about it ten years ago—or more than that now maybe—ten or twelve years ago. And they didn’t even want to look at the application. They didn’t want to talk to me. Oh, we’re looking for someone with a degree. So I couldn’t wait to plant this church. Of course, the flesh gets in there, but the whole week I was like, “Okay, understand, I’m not stupid. Can we at least talk?” No, because pedigree. The pastors at that church have a degree, and no wonder the Spirit of God is not moving mightily in that place or in many churches, because that’s what they’re trusting in. These people should have the common sense to say, “Is God on that person? Is God working in their life? Has God anointed that?” That’s what I want.

Anytime we pray about future deacons, future elders, do you think I’m at the door asking for their business card to see where they went to school? I’m looking to see who’s right here at six thirty in the morning. That’s how I’m picking leadership teams. That’s how we have been. Watch who God’s Spirit is on. Watch who God is calling. He could call somebody who’s done time in prison. If the truth be told, most of us should have done time in prison. We just didn’t get caught. Doesn’t that one always crack you up? You know that DUI you should have been pulled over on, ten times.

But there’s a key here I just could not let go. I wanted to let it go, and I tried to erase it out of my sermon notes because I talk about it a lot, but it just really leaped out. Luke 1:35. God said this:

The Holy Spirit will come [upon] you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

And many people just read that and move on. But this to me just jumped out because God says the Holy Spirit is going to come upon you, and the power of God is going to come upon you. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. That’s one of my biggest prayers for all of you at this church. Not to bless financially, not to get that job, but the Spirit of the Lord come upon you. If the Spirit of the Lord was upon every person in this building, we would not be able to end before the second service gets here. We’d be worshiping, time would stand still, because that Spirit of God is upon a person. And the power—he said the power of the Most High—do you know where that word comes from? Have you ever heard the word dynamite? In the Greek it’s dunamis. Dunamis power, dynamite, dynamic, all these words. And the Spirit of God will come upon you. That’s why the word of God is not powerful in your life. That’s why there’s not this dynamic, vibrant, powerful relationship, where you can’t get more of God because the Holy Spirit has been quenched and grieved.

And like Mary, for many of us the Holy Spirit needs to come upon us. Not to save us; as believers we’re saved, but there’s a quenching and grieving that can go on. It’s the most important part of the Christian walk. I believe second only to salvation is this mighty empowerment, this mighty enduement of the Holy Spirit. You know why I know this? Because all the people you read, all the books you read, all the sermons you like, all the podcasts you listen to, nine times out of ten the Holy Spirit has come upon those people. People say, “Oh, I love reading . . . ” you fill in the blank. Oswald Chambers? Have you ever read his book, My Utmost for His Highest?

I’d better get off that topic because I want to stay there a little while. But here’s why she was filled with the Spirit, or the Spirit came upon her. Maybe I should clarify that. I have before, but some of you weren’t there. The Holy Spirit is in a believer. But in the Bible, and I don’t think it’s an accident of language here, the Holy Spirit later came upon Jesus, then He began His ministry. The Holy Spirit came upon Peter, then he preached. The Holy Spirit came upon Paul. The Holy Spirit comes upon someone. So you go from boring Christianity to dynamite dynamic. That’s the difference. Boring Christianity, where I’ll barely get to church, I’ll come if it’s on my schedule, I’ll put on AirOne so I feel like I’m getting a little bit of worship in, and I’m a Christian, but I don’t have this connection. I’m kind of just going through the motions. It’s not really exciting. I don’t really talk to people about Christ. It’s who I am, but it’s boring. You go from that to dynamite. To dynamic.

And it’s not you, it’s the Holy Spirit coming upon a person. Well, Shane, how does that happen? Empty yourself of self. Empty yourself of self, of pride, of arrogance, of thinking, “Oh, that’s going to be too extreme. That’s too crazy. I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be like those people I see on TBN.” Well, me neither. I mean, is that still around? It’s been a long time, I don’t know. But you know. We see things, and we say, “Oh, I don’t want to be like that,” but God wants you to be like who He’s created you to be.

So this is interesting. The Holy Spirit came upon Mary. Why? To go back and do housework in a loving, joyful way? I’m doing the dishes, I’m doing the dishes. No, no, no. Came upon here to proclaim. Anytime the Holy Spirit comes upon you, it’s not to go home and watch TV. It’s to proclaim, it’s to witness, with boldness, with power, with authority. That’s the whole point. She said this:

My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

That’s exactly what a Spirit-filled believer would say, overcome by the power of God.

For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant.

See, she’s saying the humble state. She’s humbling herself. She didn’t go, “Ha, I have the Messiah. Look at me,” or go around town saying, “I have the Messiah. Look at me.” He says, “No, He comes upon this humble, broken maidservant.” And then she said:

And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.

So the Holy Spirit comes upon you to witness, to be bold. The Word of God becomes authoritative, not debatable. It becomes solid, not shaky. Because if the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible, and the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer in a powerful way, you don’t think there’s dynamite when those two hit? There’s no wavering. You’re stable. You’re committed. And that’s my prayer, that people would pray, “Holy Spirit, come upon me.” You might say, “Shane, that’s not biblical.” That’s absolutely biblical, because you have all the Holy Spirit, but does He have all of you? The Bible teaches being filled with the Spirit, emptied of self.

This is so important that this could end most of the marriage issues in the church. Marriage squabbles, problems with children, financial matters, addictions—all this could be handled with a mighty enduement of God’s Spirit, His power.

Now interesting though. Sandwiched in between this is a story of Zacharias. Do you know who that was? The father of John the Baptist. And it’s interesting. They weren’t expecting, and God miraculously brought John the Baptist in to Elizabeth’s womb (through Zacharias, so it wasn’t a virgin birth), but just out of this barrenness and out of this deadness of the womb, brought John the Baptist forth, and Zacharias, the father, doubted God. He couldn’t believe it. And an angel shut his mouth for the whole pregnancy. And I thought, how often does unbelief rob us of God’s gifts, God’s blessings? We’re walking around in that state of unbelief: No, God, you’re not going to do that. You could never do that.

And I found out He actually gives you dreams, not weird dreams, but desires to do things for God and dreams of “I want to do this.” Sometimes they’re so big, there’s no way. No way, Lord. You’re dreaming. But see, it’s Him, not you. He’ll plant thoughts or ideas that are so outlandish that He has to get all the credit. There’s no way certain things can happen unless He does it. And then what happens? Unbelief comes in, and it begins to rob you of spiritual life.

Those who have gone through difficult seasons in their life start to doubt that God’s ever going to move again and that God’s ever going to bless them again. God begins to give them a gift, a blessing, and unbelief begins to come in. Do you know what a sure sign of unbelief is? Negativity. Disgruntled. Disgruntle. Negative. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You sound like Charlie Brown. Oh yeah, but this. It’s always negative, always fault-finding, always critical. Unbelief has set in. Because the end result of belief is joy. I believe God. I believe He might do things.

Now sometimes I’m believing God for some things I might share in the future it if ever happens, but sometimes He might not actually give me that prayer request because He knows what’s best. So my belief is not based upon what I get, it’s based upon who He is, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust my feelings all the time. I’m just saying. You might be different, but I do not trust my feelings all the time.

So right in between this is Zacharias’s unbelief, but then guess what? He believed, and the angel opened up his mouth, and he said, “He shall be called John.” His belief turned that back around. I’m wondering this morning, how many of you need to embrace belief again? This isn’t belief that you’re going to own this and buy this and have this huge house up on the mountain. I’m talking about believing what God said, believing what He’s put on your heart, believing, “Lord, I know You want me to do this. I know You’ve called me. I’m believing You for it.” And you get your thought back on that: “Lord, I’m believing You.”

I think God loves it when we thank Him, even when we don’t see it. Isn’t that faith? Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 1:11). Faith is the evidence of things hoped for. Isn’t that weird? There’s no evidence if I don’t see anything. Yes, there is. Faith is the evidence of me hoping for what God is going to do. So I hope in God: “Lord, I know You want to do something like this.” And often it isn’t to bless you, it’s to bless others. So that prayer, “Lord, when I get home, please have that 50” plasma TV on the front porch. Oh, please let Morgan buy me a $200,000 Lamborghini this Christmas.”

I’m not going there. I know you want me to. I just feel sorry for that poor guy. A pastor’s in the news for buying his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini, and he doesn’t understand why people are upset. I want to tell him, you can do that, but you shouldn’t. <?> there, you got them confused. That was a rabbit trail.

But let’s get back on track. Zacharias said:

You will raise up a horn of salvation as “spoken by the prophets.”

And sometimes these words don’t make sense to us, but a horn was carved out, and you could use it as a weapon. It was always a sign of strength. Look at military battle. Look at flags on strong militaries. Do you see a cute bunny? Well, what do you see? A bear, an eagle. The horn would represent strength and might. So he’s going to raise up a horn of salvation, spoken by the prophets. I thought of Psalm 18:2:

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

The horn of my salvation, which is that weapon against sin. That’s the hope. That’s what we rest in, the horn of salvation, the strength in God and God alone. Yes, your mind will tell you something else. Yes, the enemy will come in and plant doubt. Yes, the news will tell you Russia’s going to build a base by the Caribbean islands. Oh no, what are we going to do? You grab on to the Rock and hold on to almighty God. That God is the God who holds kings in the palm of His hands. He’ll raise a kingdom up, and then He’ll pull the kingdom down.

God is so awesome, He will raise a kingdom up—”Babylonians, now you go and punish My people because of their disobedience,” and then after they punished His people, He says, “Because you punished my people, I’m going to punish you, Babylonians,” and He wipes them out. My Lord, that’s strength. What army’s going to come against Him, like I said earlier? What ruler is going to mock Him? Like David said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who is going to mock and taunt the living God?” Maybe it’s just me, but I just feel so much strength in the Scriptures. There’s nothing stronger than a fortress, a stronghold, a rock.

And here’s where I want to take another rabbit trail. Zacharias also spoke life into his child’s life. This is John the Baptist’s father. Here’s what he told his son:

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him.

He spoke into his son. I want to just throw this in here. If you didn’t get a chance, listen to last week’s message on parenting, but I talked about this a little bit. But the power of blessing, speaking life into others, especially as parents. Did you know the role of parent that was meant to encourage can be a weapon of destruction in Satan’s hand? Think about this. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, speak life into your children, not death.

I heard a story. I don’t remember the pastor’s name, but he was talking about a man who was very shy. He was unkempt, meaning shirt not tucked in, his hair [messy], and he was very anti-social. He would hide from people. He was beat up. He would be the quiet guy in the back, and if a pastor would go to talk to him, he would head out the back door. He couldn’t keep a job. Never could keep a job more than a few months. Lived, I think, with his mom. But he grew up hearing his dad call him stupid, useless, and that he’ll never be anything. And the father kept beating him down, beating him down.

And one day he heard about blessing. And I’m not going to try to make this into bigger than it should be; I think despite what your parents say about you, God can do great things in you. We’re not under their curse, so to speak. But I do believe there is power in words. There is power in speaking life into our children, in blessing them in many ways.

But he heard about the power of blessing, and he did something remarkable. He went home to his angry father, and he went to the door, and the dad said, “What do you want? I told you I don’t want to see you again.” And he said, “Dad, would you let me in?” So he came in, and he sat down and said “I’ve never been able to hold down a job. I’m socially awkward. I’ve never really dated. I’ve become everything you told me I would become.” And he said, “I came here to ask if you would bless me.”

And he could hear the father pacing back and forth, pacing and pacing and pacing, and that man broke that morning. He started to pray a blessing over his son. He asked for forgiveness. He repented. He started speaking into his life financially, relationally, and that son was a changed person. I don’t know exactly what it was, the dynamics, what happened, but he was able to hold down a job, was able to walk proudly, and what that father imparted to the son, that blessing. There’s power there.

Again, I don’t think people should say, “Well, that never happened to me. My father said I was useless, stupid, then he died.” Well, God can still be your Father. God can still build you up. But there’s something when a parent begins to bless their child and say, “Devil, you will not have these children. You will not do this. You will not take them down that road of addiction. I’m blessing them. Lord, I’m anointing this house. I’m praying, I’m speaking life into them,” I don’t know about you, but when you look at that verse, life and death are in the power of the tongue. You can pull down, you can break down strongholds. And I’m not into the faith movement where you can speak a Mercedes into your driveway—or a Lamborghini, in this case, right? I’m not talking about that. But there’s power. You can beat people down with your words, or you can build them up and encourage them.

So again, listen to last week’s message on parenting. The chance of your child becoming a famous person—did you know this—it’s 1 in 572,000. The chance of your child becoming a professional musician is 1 in 300,000. The chance of your child becoming a professional athlete is 1 in 120,000. The chance of your child standing before Jesus Christ is 100 percent. Amen, let’s clap for that one. And I wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t. Somebody else said that, and I gave him credit on Facebook, but the name slips my mind right now. That is so true. One day our children will stand before Christ. Your grandchildren will stand before Christ. And what really matters is what we did with this investment.

But let me bring this home. The reason for the season. It goes on to say that Jesus came to give knowledge of salvation by the removal of sin. So we go from unsafe to very safe. And isn’t it funny, people who are unsafe right now think they’re very safe. But by the removal of sin, and removing that sin, that’s why Jesus came. I see so many people, and sometimes I talk to pastors, and they’ll say, “Well, I don’t want to talk about that. People aren’t going to like that.” They want a safe service. They want a safe message. What does safe mean? Don’t ruffle my feathers, don’t stir my pot, don’t step on my toes. Safe. There’s safety there.

And Jesus came to bring light to those who sat in darkness. I don’t know who’s listening, I don’t know who’s here this morning, but He comes to be a light to those who sit in darkness. I’ve talked about this before, a few weeks ago, groping, as it were, for the light. That’s what people do who sit in darkness. You know what groping is, right? Do you ever go into a room that’s completely dark? I did this morning in the garage. It’s like your eyes are wide open but you can’t see, so what are you doing? You’re groping, you feel your way around. That’s how people are going through life. They’re groping. They’re feeling for things. So there’s no direction. There’s no purpose. There’s nothing. They’re just getting by. Do you ever say, “I’m just getting by”? How are you doing? “I’m just getting by. I’m barely holding on. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m groping. I can’t see.”

And Christ said, “But I have come to bring light to that area of darkness,” and then the lights come on, and you see clearly. Actually, you see so clearly that you say, “I was blind, but now I see. I was lost, but now I’m found.” Amazing grace. And that’s the reason for the season.

Hopeless. Do you know this is one of the most hopeless times of year? I didn’t know this, but I’ve been seeing stuff online, and this is one of the most difficult seasons for people. They’re hopeless, because anytime the joy of Christ is turned up, so is hopelessness on the dark side. People say, “I don’t have what others have. I’m hopeless. I don’t have that hope that’s in you.”

Going back to C. S. Lewis again, in his incredible work The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he paints Aslan as Christ. I know some people have a problem with that, but I don’t. So he paints this picture of Aslan as Christ, but in this tale he’s also a lion. Many of you know the story, right? Aslan’s this lion, and this girl who knows about Aslan as the conquering king, she finds out he’s a lion. And she said, “Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion? Oh, I thought he was a man.” And then she said something interesting: “Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” And the response was “Is he safe? Of course he’s not safe. He’s a lion! But he’s the King, and he’s good, I tell you.”

See, that’s the King. The lamb becomes a lion, yes. He is very safe if you know Him, if you run to Him, if you commit to Him, if you give Him everything and you hold on to Christ and He becomes your all-consuming hope. He’s very safe. But if you reject Him, that Lion becomes your judge. But Shane, I read about an Advocate in the Bible. But that Advocate becomes your judge. And instead of hearing, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” you hear, “Depart from Me. I don’t know you. I don’t have that relationship with you.” He is very safe if you run to Him and embrace Him.

I just read also—I don’t know how many of you saw this—but it depends on what statistics you look at, who you read, that they belief that witchcraft is growing faster than Christianity, especially among young children. And do you know why? Most of them think it’s cool, it’s a cool thing, it’s in, and it’s safe. When would we ever put witchcraft and safe in the same sentence? But here’s why it’s safe, they say. There’s no God telling me what to do. There’s no God telling me what I can do and what I can’t do. It’s all about self-empowerment, self-fulfillment, self-exaltation. I can control, I can manipulate, I can chant, I can hex. Safe, it’s very safe. No, the most damning place you can live is rejecting God and playing with darkness. You’re in a very dangerous spot. A person who does it is in a very dangerous, unsafe spot that will have spiritual ramifications.

The verse I want to close with is something that does not come from the Gospels. I was reading about the life of David this week.  Many of you know the story. As he was running from Saul, who was trying to kill him, David told Jonathan, “There is just a step between me and death.” And I thought, how relevant for us today. Think about that. I can say that right now. Between me and death, there is but a step. Right there, somewhere, some way, somehow. God knows.

So this life, the Bible says, is just a vapor, and death is just a step away. We put so much value in thinking we’re ten feet tall and bulletproof. We’re safe. We’re safe running from the Messiah. We’re safe rejecting Christ. We’re safe denouncing that religious stuff. No, you’re not. You are very unsafe. Spiritually speaking, you are on the side of darkness. The demonic realm will take you out and take you down. You need to run to the cross. You need to run to salvation. How great is salvation. How great is our God.

And I want to give you that opportunity this morning, if you’ve been convicted, if you’ve been concerned about this area. I even want to throw this out there. What I just read, this girl said, “I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” Do you feel rather nervous about meeting Christ?

Now, I guess there are some nerves there, right, because I’m not nervous in a bad way, but I’m a little wow, a holy God—humanity comes in there. But there should not be nervousness such as fear, like “I can’t stand before Christ. I can’t stand before God. I can’t. I’m nervous about meeting Him. Is He safe? I’m nervous, Shane.” Well, end that, finish that, fix that today. The Bible is crystal clear. Run to the Lion. He’s the Lion of the tribe of Judah. There is so much safety there.

Revelation 5. I remembered it, although I didn’t have it written down, from a couple days ago, where John writing and speaking in Revelation 5 began to weep because there was no one worthy to open the scroll. And the angel said, “Hold on. Look. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed. He will open the scroll.” So always remember that. When it begins to look hopeless, nothing good is happening, our nation, the Lion of the tribe of Judah will prevail. Actually, if you believe God’s Word, He’s already prevailed. We live in time; God doesn’t. He’s already said, “He will prevail.” It’s done. End of story. There’s not a battle going on that we’re going to watch and see who wins. It’s been done. The fight has been done. The victory has been won.

If that’s you, and you need to know Christ, the Bible is clear. It says to confess your sins and believe that Jesus is God. God raised Him from the dead, put Him on that cross to absorb your sin, to absorb the wrath of God, so you can go from darkness to light. Very safe, very safe Messiah if you run to Him.