The Greatest Story Ever Told-Sermon Notes

December 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Last Sunday, we talked about the stories of Christmas. Some of you expressed an interest in getting my notes on the message… Well, here they are! I hope you can make sense out of them. : )


MESSAGE:            The Greatest Story Ever Told

It’s the Christmas season:            Christmas stories

  • Books‘
    • Twas the Night before Christmas
  • TV Specials
    • The Year Without Santa Claus
    • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
    • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    • Frosty the Snowman
    • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Movies
    • The Polar Express
    • Elf
    • Home Alone
    • It’s A Wonderful Life
    • Christmas Vacation
    • A Christmas Story

Christmas is about stories, We love these stories because they all have something in common…

  • they all capture our desire for hope, love, faith and peace
  • They touch something deep down in all of us—a longing for things to be right in the world

But they all have something else in common

  • They all are based on fantasy
  • They are myths that are not real
  • But we wish they were

I have been reading a book about story

  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
  • Donald Miller


  • A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

All the stories we watch at Christmas have this in common, But today I want us to think about the real story of Christmas

  • It is part of a bigger story
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told

Luke 2:1-21

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

Unlike the myths I mentioned earlier, this story is real

  • It happened in history

Movies:     The following is based on a true story or actual events

  • These capture my attention in a different way
  • They move me more because they are true—based in reality
  • Since they are real—they are accessible to me
  • In a way, I can be a part of it

Well, the following is based on a true story/actual events

Mary gives birth

  • Where—stable
  • Why—no room at the inn


Luke 2:10-11

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Christmas is the TRUE Story of the birth of Jesus

  • Jesus is the greatest story in the universe

But his birth is just a scene in a bigger, grander story

  • The story of Jesus begins in Genesis

Creation:           The Garden

  • Man
  • The serpent—the villain/enemy/antagonist
  • The Fall
    • Man chooses to write his own story

Genesis 3:14-15 (The Message)

God told the serpent:

“Because you’ve done this, you’re cursed, cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals,
Cursed to slink on your belly
    and eat dirt all your life.
I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers.
He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.”

A future character is introduced to the story— protagonist

  • A man who will defeat the enemy and restore creation and everything in it

The first mention of a hero

  • Promise of a savior/Messiah


  • A character—a Savior—who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

The Greatest story continues…

  • OT—Selects a people
  • Waiting for Messiah

Through the prophets we receive some clues about the hero…

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Micah 5:2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

The story of the new character’s birth is filled with amazing & miraculous events:

Luke 2

  • A census from a Roman emperor puts Mary and Joseph in the right place at the right time
  • Heavenly host appear to shepherds

In other passages we learn

  • Mary & Joseph were separately visited by angels to prepare them for the event
  • A star seems to have broken the laws of celestial physics to highlight a stable in Bethlehem and guide wise men from the East

But there is also CONFLICT from the beginning

  • No room for them in the inn
  • Herod kills Hebrew children
  • May and Joseph flee to Egypt

We need to remember this story every year

  • We need to remember the story of Christmas—the birth of Jesus
  • Because that story is part of God’s Greatest Story
  • A story that continues today

The Greatest Story Ever Told is also…

  • The Greatest Story Being Told—right now
  • It is story we are all a part of whether we realize it or not

The Story God is writing includes characters writing their own stories

  • Every person who has ever walked this earth is actually writing a story within God’s bigger story

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years—Donald Miller

  • Charcters try to write their own stories

Pg 85-86

As I worked on my novel, as my character did what he wanted and ruined my story, it reminded me of life in certain ways. I mean as I sat there in my office feeling like God making my worlds, and as my characters fought to have their way, their senseless, selfish way of nonstory, I could identify with them. I fought with my character who wanted the boring life of self-indulgence, and yet I was also that character, fighting God and I could see God sitting at his computer, staring blankly at his screen as I asked him to write in some money and some fun and some comfort.

God has a story he is writing right now

  • The end hasn’t happened
  • And we’re  in it
  • A grand, dramatic, exciting story
  • Of angels and miracles and life

But we want to control the story

  • We want to play the hero
  • Or at least have the main focus

Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we reject the divine author and choose to write our own story

  • We sin
  • We run from God

And so we struggle when God’s story doesn’t match up with ours

  • We fight him
  • We cry out against him
  • We blame him

Story from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: Kathy and the Rwandan genocide

  • Kathy
  • Massacre in a church in Ntarama

Pgs 117-118

“Kathy took the tour bus to Ntarama. She walked into the church and looked at the bones lying cold on the iron rails. She looked at the bloody clothes hanging from the walls.

She was ready to feel the same old anger at God, only a thousandfold more. She was ready to pray her last prayer, announcing that she could no longer believe in God in a world with such pain and so much devastation.

But Kathy told me it was then and there, in that church, that she heard from God. Instead of the anger, she felt overwhelming tenderness and sorrow.

This is what happens when people walk away from me, Kathy. I have brought you to this place to show you something important. This is what happens when my compassion and love leave a place.

It is when people do not let God show up through them, she realized, that the world collapses in on itself.”


The Story of Christmas is the story of God bringing his love and compassion to this world

It is a story of A character—Jesus— who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

Do you know what he wants?

  • You

And he is willing to do anything to get it

  • Leaves his heavenly kingdom
  • Enters a world he created that has turned against him
  • Forfeits his rights and power—arriving as a helpless baby

He will have to overcome conflict to get you—the one he loves so much

Conflict at his birth…

Then—at the end of his life—we see the full extent of his love

  • Arrested, falsely accused, tried, convicted, condemned to death on a cross
  • It is there that Jesus overcomes the greatest conflict we could never overcome on our own
  • Sin and death
  • The results of our rejection

The greatest story is the gospel:

A character—Jesus— who wants something—(YOU) to give you life and to be with you forever— and overcomes conflict—(the CROSS) by going to the cross and dying for your sins as your substitute; then rising from the dead—defeating sin and death to get it.

Now that’s the greatest story ever told… And here is the amazing thing when we believe that…

  • Since it is also The Greatest Story Being Told
  • We can be part of God’s story again
  • Instead of fighting against him, we can join him
  • The story is being written today—right now

Every moment of everyday, we are writing a story

  • And we can choose what our character does

We can choose to make ourselves the center of the story

  • To act only for ourselves and our interests
  • And live out a small, rather boring story

Or we can listen to the author and be a different character in the Greatest Story Being Told

We need Christmas each year…

  • Remember that he came
  • Remember that he still comes
  • He has entered our story and is there… always

Knowing all this…

  • What part of the story will you write today?
  • What will you write this Christmas?
  • What will you write in 2014?


  • The Greatest story ever told
  • Is the greatest story being told
  • And the greatest story that will be told

We have a reason for hope in the face of conflict

  • A reason to sing

Grace and peace,



How do we “love one another”?

October 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week we looked at how a disciple of Jesus is a worshipper. It was interesting to realize that I needed to be more specific because, in reality, everyone–the religious and the irreligious– worship something or someone (many times several somethings or someones).

Last Sunday we looked at another characteristic of a disciple of Jesus…

A disciple is a Friend. This focuses primarily on how we are to relate to other Christians in the church. Here are some of the thoughts from the message…

Early in the gospels we see that Jesus brings together a diverse band of guys (the disciples) to join him in carrying out the greatest rescue mission in the history of the cosmos. In John 13 he gives them a key component in how this mission defined and how it is going to succeed:

John 13:34-35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

That is the mission… LOVE

Like the disciples, Jesus organizes his people into local groups called the church. The church is made up of different and diverse people— economically, socially, genderly (I know this isn’t a word but you get the idea), chronologically, racially, culturally, politically, etc.

And then he says to this incredibly diverse group: to be a disciple you have to love each other.

This can be challenging… But here are three ways that we can live out this command in the church:

1) Spend time with each other

Acts 2:42-47

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

We see that the early church spent a great deal of time together. There is a proximity in love. We must be physically close to other believers to love them as Jesus commanded. This takes time and effort, but the reward is great.

2) Encourage each other

Hebrews 10:19-25

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 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.

This is related to “spending time with each other”.  In order to encourage and “spur on”— we must keep meeting together to know what is happening in each other’s lives. There is a saying I heard a few years ago that I believe is true and related to this idea:

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Now, although these first two points are necessary to love one another, they create a challenge…

Think about it: If people with a bunch of differences spend a bunch of time together, then spur on one another on…What might result?

CONFLICT… And this is where it becomes harder to be a friend.

But you must understand this:

  • Love isn’t the absence of conflict
  • Love is a remedy to conflict

And this idea leads us to our last principle of being a friend..

3) Keep short accounts with each other

Matthew 18:15-19

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The issue isn’t whether you will have conflict with others in the church—the issue is how you handle the conflict that will eventually occur. In this passage, Jesus tells us to deal with it directly—going first to the person on your own. If that doesn’t work, take two or three others who are in a relationship with the person who has sinned. The main idea is not punishment or discipline here, but rather restoration.


Grace and peace,



January 7th News

January 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

First of all, I would like to thanks all those who brought food last week to our New Year’s brunch. It was all delicious and a great way to break any weight loss resolutions right out of the gate!

This week we will return to the book of Acts. Take a look at Acts 15:36-41. It is a small passage, but I think it speaks to something we can all relate to. How do you respond when someone lets you down? How about if someone wrongs you?

These are good questions to think about because the chances that you will be wronged or let down by other is approximately 100%!!! it’s gonna happen so we may as well be prepared for it.

That’s what we’ll be talking about tomorrow– I hope you can join us.

Looking forward to Sunday!

Grace and peace,