Yesterday at C3 we kicked off our new series, Christmas Presence. With Christmas only three weeks away, this is the time when the stress levels can rise as we try to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. But, yesterday’s message reminded us that when we take our focus off of the presents of Christmas and put the on the PRESENCE of our Savior, we experience power. If you missed the message, listen to it here.
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”(NKJV)
Isaiah 7:14 reminds us that that Jesus is Immanuel, which in the Hebrew means “God with us”. He is our Immanuel – He is God with us. In every season He is with us, and in His presence, we experience power!
Matt reminded us that there are 2 ways that we experience God’s power…
1) We Experience the Power of His Presence as We Gather – Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Matt reminded us that we don’t gather on Sundays to be entertained or to be spectators, but we gather to celebrate all God has done and is going to do! Even after we are saved, we need to always be growing in our relationship with Christ. We never ‘arrive’ at a place where we no longer need to attend church or fellowship with other believers. God is not finished with us yet! And it is as we gather in His House, that we not only grow, but we also get to serve others.
2) We Experience the Power of His Presence as We Scatter – Not only do we experience the power of God’s presence when we are in His House, but we also experience His power as we go out into the world. That is why Connect Groups are so important. Every semester our Connect Groups are ‘scattering’ and being the Hands and Feet of Jesus in the community. As they go, they take the power of God’s presence with them in the community. As you go throughout your week, the power of God’s presence goes with you also.
Matthew 13:53-58, “Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”(NKJV)
Throughout the book of Matthew, we see Jesus going from town to town performing miracles – healing the sick and casting out demons. But when He came to Nazareth, His hometown, it says that “He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. Why didn’t He perform miracles in His own town? Why did the people in Nazareth miss out?
They missed out on experiencing HIS PRESENCE because they were...
1. Too Familiar with Jesus – “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?” They took for granted who Jesus was. When we become too familiar with the things of God, we take Him for granted.
2. They Were Offended at Jesus – When we are offended at God, we are no longer able to receive from Him. The same is true when we are offended by others. They had a false perception of who Jesus was. False perceptions lead to unnecessary offenses.
3. Unbelief – The people in Nazareth lacked faith. They were filled with unbelief, and so Jesus was unable to perform miracles. The same is true of us – we need to have a spirit of expectancy that God is able to perform miracles; He’s able to move mountains; He’s able to do the supernatural. But, if we don’t believe it, we will miss out on His power.
Let’s make a decision this Christmas season to believe God for the power of His Presence, and let’s empty ourselves of familiarity, offense, an unbelief, and have a spirit of expectancy!