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About this series
The Hope of Christmas
Hope has tremendous power - the power to heal, to help you keep going, and to inspire! 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote to the people of Israel who needed hope: "For unto us, a child is born, unto us, a Son is given. The government will rest on His shoulders and He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The hope of that message was for them then, and it's for us today! In this series, Chip reminds us that Jesus is all those things. Those are titles God gave Him and titles He claimed. If you need hope, join Chip for these messages. You'll be comforted, encouraged, and inspired!More from this series
Ready for counseling session number two? Turn if you will to Luke chapter 10. We have the story, not of a rich, young, successful man, but we have the story of a very stressed out, overextended, under-pressure, frazzled woman.
And we will see in just a minute that her presenting problem is she feels overwhelmed, she feels so overwhelmed like most of us do, that we start to blame other people and we are a victim and why do other people not help us? Or why am I doing all the work?
And so, she has some misguided views about God, she has some misperceptions about what really matters and what is really important. And I don’t know about you, but is there a month in all of the calendar that our calendars just go, trrrr? If you asked me for coffee right now, and most of us, you just look at your calendar – it’s crazy. And you’ve got to ask: well, what happened? Why, at a time when we would ponder and rejoice and be thankful and – well, we have got some things built in. You’ve got to buy gifts for all these people, you’ve got to write cards to all these people, you’ve got to go to parties. A lot of them you don’t even want to go to.
There’s a lot to do. You’ve got to bake, right? And there are some traditions you’ve got to fulfill and then some of you, you’ve got to travel. You’ve got to, you’ve got to, you ought, you should, you’ve got to, you’ve got to, you ought, you should.
And what Jesus is really going to say is, Really? Who made up the “gottas” and “oughtas” and “oughts” and that you should, that make Christmas season the most stressful time in many of your lives? So stressful, so busy, so overwhelming that the only thing you really forget is Jesus.
Let’s pick it up in Luke chapter 10, verse 38. “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet, and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve all alone? Tell her to help me.’”
Now, I don’t know about you, and certainly she knows Jesus is a great rabbi and a great teacher, but calling Him out seems to be a little bit strong, right? Like, “Hey, don’t You care? Look what’s happening here!”
So, you’ve got Mary who, they are sisters and Martha is realizing, Wow, we need to prepare. We need to cook. We need to get it set up. We need to get the good dishes out. This is an important guest. So, we can’t have two or three dishes. We need four or five.
Everything has got to be just perfect. What really matters is all the stuff we do for God, right? So, she’s active and she is busy.
And we pick up the story. “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And so, afterward, Jesus said, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”
His words are really interesting. He uses a general word: “You are distracted.” It means an over-preoccupation with a concern about future events. And then the word here, He says, “You are troubled,” it’s a more specific word. It’s what happens to you emotionally when you get locked up inside. So, she is preoccupied about: We’ve got to get this, we’ve got to get this, we’ve got to get this, we’ve got to get this. And everything is going to be terrible unless we get it all lined out.
And then she is not only anxious, but she is troubled within. And then He uses an interesting word. He says, “What Mary has chosen won’t be snatched away,” or, “taken away from her.”
Isn’t it interesting in both situations, Jesus’ counsel, He says to the rich young ruler, He says, “You have one problem.” And He says to Martha, “Only one thing is necessary.” And so, I looked through my counseling profile and so, the presenting problem is I have too much to do, I am overwhelmed, and as we say to one another, “I’m stressed out.”
The diagnostic evaluation was: she believes that Jesus doesn’t care and if other people would get with the program, her life would really work out well. Anybody ever feel overwhelmed, like a victim, and if God really cared, He would be helping you a lot more than He is right now?
And some of these other people, if they would just pull their weight in your house or pull their weight at work or pull their weight here, then things would really be better. Has anyone ever felt that? That’s what, this is a lady who is frazzled. And she is frazzled because her belief system is that what really honors God is her activity, her serving, her doing.
And like most of us, when doing is the focus, you can never do enough. Mary sat down and she had time for Jesus, Himself. Martha was doing things for Him. Mary said, “I’m not sure when this opportunity is going to come, but I want to be with Him.”
Do you find during the Christmas season that your time with Christ gets squeezed? You’ve got to shop, you’ve got to eat, you’ve got to cook, you go to these parties, you’re out a little bit later, it’s hard to get up.
What will be your game plan this Christmas to say, “Wow, if I have a supernatural Counselor that wants to give me wisdom and put His arm around me, coach me through this season, and help me for my good, what do I need to hear from Him?”
So, she believes Jesus is about how much she does. The real issue is she substitutes her relationship with Him for activity for Him. And so, He gives her a divine prescription. And basically says, “Your problem: busyness. The root issue: you don’t get it. You don’t understand. It’s priorities. You have built-in traditional expectations that, when someone comes to your home, you have to do one, two, three, four, and five. And, actually, two would have been fine, where you would have time to be with Me.”
So, I would encourage you to ask yourself, what are some things that you have always done that take time and put you under pressure and just ask this ridiculous question: should I even do that this year? Would the world fall apart if you said to a couple of those parties: “I would really love to come, but I’m just not able to make it. I have another very important priority.” And it’s you’re going to spend time with God.
Or, anymore now, everyone makes their Christmas cards and then you get something printed from someone that you hear from once a year, right? And on the printing it says, “Oh, I hope you have a blessed season. Rejoice! La, la, la, la, la.” Maybe a verse if they’re a Christian or you get a four-page letter about how well all their – “My one son is a superstar, the other one is in Oxford, my daughter just won a beauty contest.” Right? You get those letters like I do, and it’s just like, “Ach.” I don’t want to know that much about your life.
Right? And you get these – and then at the very end, “Oh, by the way, please pray for us because we are a little overwhelmed because we are leading seven Bible studies,” and it’s just like…help me.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s wrong to send out those letters, especially if they are well done. But I have met people that, the weight of the whole season, “What am I going to say in those letters? I've got to write out all those cards.”
What? And I’m not saying, by the way, I am not saying any of this is wrong. You may be led to do some things. I just remember about fifteen years ago, I looked at everything and I thought, You know what? I’m just not doing Christmas cards. I’m just not doing them! They take a whole bunch of time, I’m trying to find all the addresses, and I’ve got to self… I can text people and call people and have a genuine connection with the top twenty-five or thirty percent than doing all those cards and all that stuff. But, believe me, for years it was like a gun, “How can you not send cards?” Or for some of you, “We have to bake everything ourselves.” Right? “My grandmother, my mother, me.”
And it’s nine days of baking. And then we take these pies and then we put them over here and then we’re here and when the little, “Get out of the kitchen! I’m trying to make these pies” – why? “Because I really love God, that’s why.” And there’s just all this crazy stuff we do.
I’m just saying, I’m just wondering whether Jesus would say, Why don’t you can some of that stuff? Really, that’s kind of His words. He goes, Jesus, “You’re troubled about many things, but the only one thing is necessary.” If we didn’t do anything and our heart was to spend time with Him and to express His love to other people and we didn’t do any of the traditional stuff, we might have this weird experience like, “Wow, there wasn’t much stress. I had such joy. We got to help that family over here.
What would happen if you just took off things that, unconsciously, that are expectations that you think to be a good person, a good mom, a good dad, a good single person, a whatever. That you just, you haven’t even thought about it, it’s just the – it’s December! What if you just said, “I’m not…” are you ready?
What if you said, “Okay, if a child is born unto us and His name will be called supernatural Counselor,” what if you took your whole Christmas list and expectations and said, Oh, Wonderful Counselor, which ones of these do You want me to do, and which ones I really don’t need to do? And is there anything, maybe, that’s not on this long list that this year might really express love to people that You want on the list?
And then just relax and do whatever He shows you. Now, by the way, He might give you a rich, young ruler moment, right? See, the rich, young ruler – he was restless and dissatisfied and he had a hole in his soul. And Jesus gave him the answer. He says, I could hear him going, “Hey, Lord, I wanted help. I just didn’t want that much help. I want to be close to You, but I want to keep my idols. I want to be in control. I want people to know I’ve got stuff. I want to…”
And Jesus, good counselors, the best ones I have ever had, there are times where you just want to get up and knock them out. And usually, if you’re that defensive, it’s because you realize they are really right. “You’re arrogant, Chip. You’re a workaholic, Chip. You think you have to earn God’s favor, Chip. You have to feel like you’ve got to do…” “You’re crazy!” And right.
And then you walk through a journey and a process with some friends and say, “I want to learn to be humble. I want to learn to be a servant. I want to learn to not care what other people think.”
And you get some insight along the way about your personality or where you picked up some of this stuff. But grace is saying, “I am loved, not because of anything I do, not if I do something, and not to impress anyone. I am loved because the living God came to the planet, born of a virgin, that would be a full hundred percent man and a full hundred percent God.”
The classical theology is: true humanity and undiminished deity, without confusion. And He died upon a cross after living a perfect life and He has covered and paid for my sins and I can receive that by faith and He will take up residence in me and the Christian life is Him living His life through me and I walk with Him and I do good things and kind act, not to earn His favor – I already have it – but to express His love to other people and to give thanks for what He has done.
And that just takes mountains of pressure off. That’s why Jesus came. He didn’t come so you could check off the box, “Okay, no adultery, no this, no this, no this, no this, no this, no this, but I’m God and I’m in control.” And He didn’t come so you could say, “Okay, I’m going to do tons of things for God.” Some people do so much for God, they miss a relationship with God.
So, are you ready for the third counseling session? Counselee number one is a restless rich, young, successful, moral person. Counselee number two is a harried, stressed out woman. And counselee number three is you and me. And I want to give you four little principles that I have drawn for this Christmas season for me and for you.
I call them wisdom principles to follow this Christmas. Number one, stuff will never satisfy. Giving stuff to other people won’t satisfy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t give Christmas gifts, I’m just saying, ask: what do you give and why? And what are you going to do? And are you giving what you can afford or giving…?
All these games we play like, I hear people say stuff like, “Well, I really can’t afford it and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but it’s the Christmas season.” Like, oh! That’s license to be stupid! It’s the Christmas season; I think I’ll be irresponsible. Stuff won’t satisfy. So, how do you personally declare war on the stuff world?
Second is: being good is never good enough. Built into the drivenness is being good, but demonstrating to other people you are good. Good teacher, Jesus said, “Who are you calling good? There is only one that is good. That’s God.”
It’s about a grace relationship. It’s being forgiven. The performance orientation that you have and I have is thinking someday, somehow, I’ll get good enough to earn God’s favor or earn people’s favor. I want you to know, you’ve got God’s favor because of what Christ did.
Third, our activities for God and others can destroy our relationship with God and others. So just do an inventory check on your activities. Your good activities. What Martha was doing was good! But her good activity for Jesus and the other guests actually ruined her relationship with Jesus and not just the other guests, but her own sister.
Fourth, if you’re too busy to listen and pray, you’re too busy. Right? If God Immanuel, what does it mean? God is with us. God came near. Jesus left heaven to be with you and then we celebrate it by not having time to be with Him.
Does anybody see something that doesn’t make sense on that one? Maybe you’re going to read the book of Luke. Maybe you’re going to read the Christmas story.
How are you going to be with Him, to listen and to pray? What does that look like, either in the morning? Or what does that look like in the family? Or what does that look like? I don’t know.
But let me encourage you, the Wonderful Counselor wants this to be an amazing Christmas of deep connection with Him, of great love toward other people, and you being deeply satisfied.