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What are you looking forward to in the coming year? It is important to remember that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in we need to seek Christ, respond to Him faithfully, and know that God sent Jesus to free us from our bondage to sin.
How to Make 2020 Your Best Year Yet
Developing Daily Desperate Dependence Upon the Lord
FW Building Update Q&A
Fort Worth Campus Update
How to Not Waste Your Life
The Church Matters
How We Think About Being Externally Focused
Evening with the Elders
Reflection Sunday: The Goodness of God and the Futility of the Wicked
Easter and Its Relationship with a Photoshopped Hell
Good Friday 2019
A Relentless Activity
The Motivation to Forgive
Love Precedes Life Change
As you reflect on life, what was your best year? What if your best year yet was defined by something else? By someone else? Teaching through Matthew 2, Jermaine Harrison walks through two steps you can take and one step God has taken that will make 2020 your best year yet.
Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing? Glad you guys are here. If we have not met, my name is Jermaine Harrison, and I get to serve here on the Shoreline team, which is our ministry for and with students in grades 9 through 12. I hope you had a merry Christmas. I'm excited to get to share with you and learn with you this morning.
To get our time started, I want to ask you, I'm going to invite you to consider your answer to a question. What year in your life so far has been the best year of your life? So far in your life, which year would you pick, which year would you choose as the best year of your life? We're in a season when obviously we're reflecting a ton on the last year and looking forward to the New Year and the new decade with 2020 just a few days away.
I've been reflecting on that question, and you can spend some more time even after church at your meal or with your family just even having a great conversation about that question. What year of your life has been your best year yet? Since I've had a little bit more time to think about it, I already have my answer. My best year of my life was 2017. Here's why.
In 2017, I got to serve with ALARM, one of our ministry partners in Uganda, Africa, which was an amazing experience. I got to go to Haiti and serve with some of our students from here at Watermark. I met my wife out in the Watermark Coffee Shop, so if you're looking for a spouse, maybe that's a good option.
I got to see the Highland Park High School Scots, the football team, win the State Championship that they had no business winning, and it was amazing to watch. Probably my crowning moment was during the summer sitting at Village Burger Bar over here on Forest and Inwood eating lunch with students and some friends.
I get a tap on my shoulder, and I look around to see a 9- or 10-year-old kid. He asks me an incredible question. He goes, "Are you Ezekiel Elliott?" I went, "Let's go!" No, in that split second I had that tension, "Do I say, 'Yes' and pretend I am and take a picture with him or do I crush all of his hopes and dreams and say, 'No, I'm not'?" I decided to crush all of his hopes and dreams and told him I'm just Jermaine, but I'm still awesome, I think.
Those experiences or those circumstances are easily what I go toward to think of my best year yet. I think the same is true of you. When you're thinking of your best year yet, you're probably imagining or talking about or thinking about your marriage flourishing and growing or your kids growing and thriving or getting that job you wanted or that promotion you wanted or seeing that dream that you had for a long time come through or getting into that college you really wanted to get into or meeting your spouse for the very first time.
Most of those things are amazing experiences and circumstances are probably lean toward, "Man, that was an incredible year when that happened." As I've continued to think about and reflect on that question, "What year of my life has been the best year yet?" A follow-up question has come to my mind I want to present to you as well.
What determines your best year? What determines, what causes you to decide which year of your life is your best year yet? Because if you're anything like me, you know that even in the amazing experiences and circumstances of life, there are also challenges. In 2017 that I would characterize as my best year yet, I also experienced hardship and challenges and tragedy and loss.
I know that that's not just my experience. I believe it's a human experience. All of us can look back on our lives or any year of our life and reflect on the highs and the lows that life can potentially bring. All of us can look back on our lives and each year of our lives and see and come to a conclusion, "Hey, this year was an A+ in terms of circumstances or experiences, but maybe it was a D- or an F in terms of my heart because I was angry. I was bitter. I was selfish. I was walking in my own way and not following the Lord."
As we're looking ahead to 2020, I believe that every single one of you and every single person listening in online wants this next year to be your best year yet. No one is looking ahead to the New Year and making resolutions or picking a word for the year and saying, "You know what? I hope 2020 is just okay. I hope it's decent."
We all want it to be an incredible and amazing and the best year yet. Some of you truly are going to have an amazing year in terms of your circumstances. Some of you are going to have a challenging year in terms of your circumstances. Most of us are going to be somewhere in between.
Whatever your circumstances are, what if your best year yet, what if 2020 wasn't defined by how good or how difficult it was, but by something else? What if your best year yet was defined by something else? What if your best year yet was defined by someone else? For the rest of our time today, we're going to be working our way through the gospel of Matthew, chapter 2.
We'll be observing two steps that you and I can take and one step that God has taken that will make 2020 your best year yet. Two steps that you can take, that you can begin to put into practice today, and one step that God has already taken to make sure that 2020 is your best year yet. So if you have your Bible, turn there with me to Matthew, chapter 2. I'll be reading from the NIV translation. Matthew, chapter 2.
In Matthew 2 is a story that takes place anywhere from a few weeks to several months up to probably two years after the birth of Jesus. In this text, there are principles found that I think are truly relevant to you and me today. We're going to read through the first 8 verses, verses 1 through 8. I want you to notice and pay attention to, look out for people's or groups of people's response to Jesus, to the coming of the Savior of the world as a baby.
All right. Matthew 2, verses 1 through 8 where we'll observe a few things and then come to our first step that you can take, that I can take to make 2020 our best year yet. Verse 1: "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.'"
These wealthy astronomers from the ancient Near East, probably somewhere in Persia, had gained some information about the Savior of the world who was to be born. Somehow, in some God-ordained way, they were led, they were directed by… It may have been a star. It may have been a planet. It may have just been the glory of God that was directing them and guiding them and showing them where the Savior of the world was.
It's amazing to see how God's promise to Adam and Eve and to Abraham in Genesis all the way back then where he says that, "…through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed…" We see it being fulfilled immediately even at the birth of Christ or a few months or years later where these Gentile wealthy astronomers are seeking Jesus.
Verse 3. Let's look at some of the responses of people or groups of people. "When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him." I want to focus in on all Jerusalem. This group of people who were the chosen people of God, their response to hearing that the Savior of the world, their Messiah that they had heard about, that the prophets had prophesied about for years and years, he was finally here, and their response was fear, was disturbance.
Not only that, they didn't do anything about it. The response of the people was fear and inactivity. Do you see it? If you read through the rest of the story, as we will, you won't even see the Jews, the nation, referenced again in Matthew, chapter 2, because they responded by doing nothing.
The wise men weren't the only people who saw this star or whatever this light was that was directing them to the Savior of the world. Everyone saw it. Everyone noticed it. They were walking along, they noticed it, the wise men told them, "Hey, there is something here. There is a Savior here." They're like, "Okay."
Their response was fear and inactivity. They had no desire to get out of their comfort zone and seek Christ, the Savior of the world. I pray that's not my response or your response to Jesus. Let's keep rolling. Verse 4: "When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born."
Herod is calling together the religious leaders, and he is saying, "Hey, tell me more about this King of the Jews who has allegedly been born." Verse 5. Here is their response. "'In Bethlehem in Judea,' they replied, 'for this is what the prophet has written…'" They know the information. "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."
So these religious leaders, they had all of the information. They knew where the Son of God was to be born. They heard the prophecies. They probably even taught the prophecies to the people of God. In this very moment where it was being fulfilled, where they were seeing it right before their eyes, they just gave the correct answer, they preached the sermon, they quoted the verse, and they went on with their lives unmoved and unchanged.
The response of the religious leaders is a response where they give the information, where they know the information, but they're indifferent. It doesn't move them to action. I pray that you and I would not be people who know the information, who have the facts, but aren't moved to action. They could've gone with the wise men. They could've helped them find Jesus, but they would rather quote a Scripture verse and move on with their lives.
Let's keep rolling and see one more response. Verse 7: "Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.'" Does Herod want to worship him? No. He wants to kill him. Jesus is a threat to his rule and to his reign.
Herod's response is one of fear and hostility because he doesn't want his leadership to be threatened or to be overthrown. No desire was in this man, this king to seek Christ for himself. So all through these 8 verses, we see a common response to Jesus: fear, indifference, apathy, andeven hostility. Most of the people who were alive when Jesus was born paid no attention to him, rejected him, or even sought to kill him.
The wise men teach us something very important, very valuable: we should seek Christ no matter the circumstance. That's the first step from this text that I think is relevant for you and me as we look toward making 2020 our best year yet. The first step is to seek Christ no matter the common response.
No matter how the crowds are responding, whether they're apathetic or hostile, you and I have an opportunity to seek Christ in spite of how the majority of people respond. That kid who walked up to me and thought I was Ezekiel Elliott, he wanted to take advantage of that opportunity. He didn't want to walk away from Village Burger Bar and think, "Man, I wish I would've said something to Ezekiel Elliott," although it wasn't. Right? He took advantage of the opportunity that he had.
I know you've probably been there where maybe you've been on vacation or you've been in a certain scenario and you had a chance to respond in a certain way and you didn't. Afterwards, you go, "Man, I wish I would have." I have a very specific example of that in my own life about a year and a half ago.
I was in Colorado with some friends hanging. Here's a picture of us at this rodeo in this small town in Colorado. It was an amazing time. We got some random stranger to take this picture of us. Guess who was waiting to talk to the guy on the horse while we were taking this picture? Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson, and Oliver Hudson.
All four of them and their family and all these friends were standing there feet away from us waiting for us to finish taking this picture so they can engage with this guy on the horse. He must've been a popular guy. In that moment, we were talking amongst ourselves, "Should we say anything? Should we go say, 'Hi'? Should we ask them for a picture?"
We're like, "No, let's play it cool. Let's be normal." We all walked away and we didn't say anything to Kurt and the rest of the family. We looked back after that moment and we went, "Man! We wish we would've taken advantage of that opportunity." We wished we were courageous enough to say, "Hi," or to start a conversation. We wish we would have.
I don't want you… I don't want to come to the end of 2020 and look back and reflect and say, "Man, I wish I would have, more importantly than talk to some stars, I wish I would have sought Jesus." So having the courage and boldness to seek Christ no matter how others respond will determine the quality of your 2020. Having the courage and the boldness to seek Christ no matter how hostile or apathetic other people are will determine the quality of your 2020.
So how are you going to respond? How are you planning to seek Christ? What is your plan for seeking him in 2020? One of the best ways that you can seek Christ on a daily basis is by spending time in God's Word. If you don't have a plan, we have one for you here. You can go to jointhejourney.com or you can find the app in the app store and we'll begin studying through the New Testament, through certain books, starting with the gospel of Luke.
If you want to make 2020 your best year yet, God's Word has to be at the core of everything that you do. We have a plan for you. You just need to decide on a time and a place. There are some other ways that you can seek Christ: through listening to sermons, through reading books, through getting involved with different ministries here at our church, through getting connecting in community where you're being spurred on to seek Christ.
What is your plan to seek Christ in 2020? Don't get to the end of the year and think, "Man, I wish I would have." That's the lesson that we learn from the wise men: seek Christ no matter the common response.To make 2020 your best year yet, seek Christ no matter the common response.
Let's read on in Matthew, chapter 2, verses 9 down to 15, where we'll observe a couple of things and then come to our second step that will help us make this next year the best one yet. What we're looking for is a response of groups of people in two very different circumstances. Are you ready? Matthew, chapter 2, verse 9:
"After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed." Some translations say, "…they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy." They were pumped. They were excited.
If you're a Clemson fan or an LSU fan, that level of excitement, it was x4 for these wise men. They had found this Jesus who they were seeking on this long journey across the rugged terrain and all of the danger that they experienced. They went through it all, they asked questions, they sought Jesus, and this was a shining moment.
They looked at each other and they went, "Let's go! We have found him!" Their response was immense joy. I don't want to tell you, "Hey, you should be more joyful." But I think it is convicting that their response when they met with Jesus was one of abundant joy. I ask myself, "Man, what's my response when I'm gathered with other believers, singing songs of praise? Am I abundantly joyful that I get to sing to my Savior?" The response of the wise men is immense joy.
Let's go on to verse 11. "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary…" Just as an aside, reminder probably in your nativity scene you have the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, some sheep maybe, whatever is in a manger, and you probably have the wise men as well. Really, chronologically, the wise men were not there in the manger.
They showed up in a house (according to verse 11) probably a year or two later. I'm so sorry that you no longer can keep your wise men in your nativity scene, but it's just true. You can keep them, but just remember that in your head. "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him."
After their response was immense joy, they come in and they bow down to this baby and they worship him. "Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." So the second response that we see from the wise men. First, there was immense joy. Next, we see incredible generosity.
Can you imagine this? They went on this long journey, probably hundreds of miles, and they brought with them these treasures, these gifts that they wanted to sacrifice and give to this baby who was the Savior of the world, their Savior. It challenges me to think of, "Man, what am I committing to sacrifice to God?"
Do you know what most of us don't do as we're planning the New Year and coming up with resolutions? We don't sit with our community or our spouses or friends and discuss, "Hey guys, what are we going to sacrifice this year?" Maybe we should. Maybe that should be on the top of our list, because these men were marked by incredible generosity that they had planned for and prepared for beforehand. Are you?
Have you planned and prepared to be extremely generous with your time, with your talents, and with your treasure? That's what we see in these wise men in this joyful and amazing circumstance. Let's keep going. Verse 12: "And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."
The third response that we notice from the wise men after their immense joy and their incredible generosity is simple obedience. Herod had told him, "Hey, come back. Give me all the details. Tell me where he is so I may worship him." We all know he doesn't want to worship him, he wants to kill him, and God directs these wise men.
He tells them, "Don't go back to him. Don't tell him." They say, "Okay." They follow God and they obey God. If you and I want 2020 to be our best year yet, simple obedience has to mark our lives. Let's keep going. In verse 13 of Matthew 2 it says this.
"When they [the wise men] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.' So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'Out of Egypt I called my son.'"
Up until this point, we are observing a joyful, amazing experience and circumstance with the wise men finally getting to meet baby Jesus. Then in verse 13, the story takes a turn to a difficult situation, a difficult season where God instructs Joseph and Mary to run for their very lives because the wicked King Herod wants to kill the Savior of the world.
Joseph and Mary's response, I want you to notice it, in this difficult circumstance and season is to trust God. They didn't question and say, "Are you sure? Maybe if we stayed in Bethlehem, Maybe if we hid with some family and friends we're going to be okay." They obeyed. They trusted in God's Word and followed his command.
So what we notice from Mary and Joseph and from the wise men in these two very different circumstances is our second step to making 2020 your best year yet, which is to respond faithfully no matter the circumstance. To respond faithfully no matter the circumstance. The wise men were in an incredible experience, but Mary and Joseph found themselves really in exile running for their lives.
How about you? Have you ever found yourself maybe in a season of exile where your health isn't the best or you haven't gotten that promotion or that new job opportunity that you want or you haven't been able to purchase that home or you're still single or some dream of yours has been put on hold? What's your response in that season of exile?
Think about this. Joseph and Mary ran for their lives in the middle of the night to an unknown country to a strange land for an undisclosed amount of time. What did they do? How did they survive? What was their response to the Lord in the midst of it? See, times of exile can be times of protection and growth.
We know that in the story, this time of exile in Egypt was a time of protection and growth for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, and us. Times of exile can be seasons where we experience protection and growth. I want to share with you a story about my friend Ryan Martin, a faithful member of our body here at Watermark who has faithfully served with our Watermark Urgent Care Clinic for several years.
I think we have a picture of him serving over there at Watermark Urgent Care Clinic. I'm going to read to you a synopsis of the season of exile that my friend Ryan has been going through. I want to share with you how he has faithfully responded in hopes of encouraging you and me to faithfully respond no matter the circumstance. I'm going to read this.
"On Friday, November 15, while on an elk hunting trip in Colorado, Ryan Martin lost his footing on some rocky terrain. He slipped. He fell and ended up shooting himself just above the ankle on his left leg. His courage and grit saved his life." I want you to picture it. He is alone hunting for elk. He slips, shoots himself in the leg. There is no one nearby.
He is screaming for help, obviously. He is bleeding out. He is trying to stop the bleeding and he is crawling to get to his friends to get some help. Does that sound like exile? His courage and grit saved his life. Some amazing doctors saved his leg. After a month in Denver, Ryan is back in Dallas and recovering. As of today, Ryan has had four surgeries. There is one more on the horizon.
The road to recovery is long. It will be six to nine months before Ryan can walk again and 12 to 18 months before achieving a new normal. Does that sound like exile? Through all of this, the Martins know that God works all things out for good. His grace is sufficient. They trust that God has them here in this moment to glorify him.
In this difficult circumstance, in this difficult season, Ryan and his family are choosing to respond faithfully. Let me show you a screenshot from a GroupMe with about 300 people who know the Martins and are familiar with their story and are praying and encouraging them as best as they can.
Every now and then, Ryan himself will send a text message through on the group thread sharing his time in God's Word. Right up here, we see him saying, "Reading Psalm 69 this morning. Psalm 145 proclaims: He upholds… He raises… He satisfies… He is near…" Does that sound like responding faithfully in a season of exile?
Not only that, but he continues to daily share things that he is grateful for, things that he plans to do to make it an amazing day, and reminders that he tells himself to encourage his heart and his soul in those moments that can be really, really tough. We learn from this member of our body that even in difficult circumstances, we can respond faithfully. Times of exile can be times where we are protected and times where we grow.
Here is the other thing I want to remind you of from Mary and Joseph's story and from Ryan Martin's story and your story. Is that God gives us what we need before we even know we need it. God gives us what we need before we even know that we need it. Remember that the wise men gave the gifts to baby Jesus when they sacrificed out of their generosity and gave him gold and frankincense and myrrh?
Do you know what Mary and Joseph did with that gold, frankincense, and myrrh? They didn't put it up on the shelf. Instead, when they ran for their lives to Egypt, how do you think they paid for where they stayed? How do you think they paid for their food? How do you think they survived for this undisclosed amount of time?
God in his sovereignty and in his kindness was giving them exactly what they needed before they even knew that they needed it. Our responsibility is to just respond faithfully no matter the circumstance. Whether it's a great experience or circumstance or a difficult one, our responsibility is to respond faithfully.
So what about you? How are you preparing yourself now for a season that is filled and marked with joy or a season that is filled and marked with difficulty? How are you preparing yourself to respond faithfully? I know for me, last year I experienced a little bit of a season of exile as there was some uncertainty with my immigration documentation and different things like that.
I know in this body there are a lot of people from different countries in the world and there are a lot of legal proceedings that you have to go through if you're potentially hoping to legally be here in this country. For a long stretch of 2018, I didn't even know if I was going to be here to continue to learn and grow and to use my gifts.
I thought that there was going to be a season maybe even of exile from my then-fiancée as I would probably have to leave this country. In God's providence and kindness, he worked all of it out, but God isn't good because he worked it all out. God isn't good because he provides every single need of yours. God is good because he is good.
Whether you're in exile or whether you're in an amazing circumstance, God is good. So we learn from Mary and Joseph, the wise men, Ryan Martin to respond faithfully no matter the circumstance. How are you preparing yourself right now for future seasons that are maybe amazing and fun or future seasons that are really difficult?
We've looked at and observed through Matthew, chapter 2, two steps that you and I can take to make 2020 our best year yet. Now we're going to look at the one thing that God has done. As just a recap, our first two points are this: you should seek Christ no matter the common response and you should respond faithfully no matter the circumstance. In verses 13 through 23, we'll observe the one thing God has already done to ensure that your 2020 is your best year yet. So verse 13 and on, Matthew, chapter 2.
"When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.' So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'Out of Egypt I called my son.'"
I want you to notice from these few verses that God is fully committed, fully committed to you and me experiencing the life that Christ came to offer. He is so committed to it that when Herod the wicked king was seeking to destroy the baby Jesus he showed up in a dream and directed these parents to run for their lives.
He provided them with gold and frankincense and myrrh so that they would survive their time in exile and so that this baby would grow up to be a man who would live a perfect life and who would die a perfect death because he was not only man, but he was also 100 percent God and that he wouldn't stay dead. He would raise again from the dead, victorious over sin and death and hell and the grave because God is for you. He did all of that because he loved you.
That baby in that house 2,000 years ago was protected by God because God saw you, because God knows you, and because God is for you. Yeah. It's so amazing to see the kindness and goodness of God just even in that little story. First John 3:8 says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."
What are the works of the Devil? The sin, the penalty for sin, and to destroy sin's stronghold on our lives and to free us to have the privilege of obeying God and walking in righteousness. Jesus came to save you from the penalty of sin and to free you to live a life of full surrender to God. God is for you. We see that so evidently in this little story about Jesus and his birth. Let's keep going.
Verse 16: "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi." The wicked King Herod decided, "Hey, since I can't find this baby Jesus and I don't want my kingdom to be threatened, I'm going to kill every boy 2 years old and under in this specific geographic location so I can make sure he is dead." That's crazy.
Verse 17: "Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 'A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.'" So what we see from this story is not just a disturbed and hostile wicked king Herod, but we also see something else, someone else behind this wicked activity.
Our enemy, your enemy, mine's and Herod's, the Devil, is fully committed to you and me not experiencing the life that Jesus came to offer. He is so committed to it that he would urge this wicked king to seek out and kill this baby in hopes that he would never become a man, in hopes that he would never start his earthly ministry, in hopes that he would never die and raise again from the dead for your sins.
The Devil is against you. He is against me. He is active. He doesn't want you to have an amazing 2020. He wants you to seek your own desires. He wants you to go your own way. That is all good and well with him, and he is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy so much in our lives. Verse 19:
"After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead.' So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene."
I hope you noticed over and over in this second part of Matthew, chapter 2, the phrase, "So was fulfilled…" "So was fulfilled…" In the minute details, in the mundane of life, God was and is at work because God chose to save you no matter the cost. God chose to save you. The one thing God has done already to make sure that 2020 is your best year yet is that he chose to save you, he chose to send his Son and that, "…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
He didn't stay dead. That is amazing news. God chose to save you no matter the cost. I don't know where you are in your life. I don't know if this is your first time in church ever or your first time back at church after a long time or if you've been in church for years or decades. It is so good to be reminded of the fact that God chose to save you no matter the cost.
That truth should be something that you remind yourself of daily, as often as you possibly can. So in summary, to make 2020 your best year yet, seek Christ no matter the common response; respond faithfully no matter the circumstance; and remember, embrace, and believe that God chose to save you no matter the cost.
The amazing thing about these two steps and what God has done is that they're not only true for 2020, but they were true in 1020 and 1520 and will be true in 2040 and 2021. Every single year of your life that God allows you to live, these principles are true. Now if you want to experience life to the full, seek Christ no matter how everyone else responds, respond faithfully no matter if it's a good circumstance or a difficult one, and remember and embrace the fact and the truth that God chose to save you and it cost him everything.
In a moment, we're going to sing a song that reminds us of these truths, that it is well with our souls, not because our circumstances point toward an incredible week or year or season of life, but because God is faithful and because God is good. We have the pleasure and the privilege and the opportunity to seek Christ, to respond faithfully, and to remind ourselves with the truth that God saved us no matter the cost. Let me pray that we would, and then we'll sing together.
God, thank you so much for the story in Matthew, chapter 2, and for the reminder to each and every one of us that you love us so much that you sent your Son Jesus as a baby born. That you sent wise men to him and gave him gifts so that when their family was in exile they would be provided for and protected so that you would continue to grow up healthy and strong and become a man, so that you would call your disciples to yourself and to heal and to proclaim the good news of God and to live and die and raise again from the grave so that we can experience life to the full.
I pray for everyone in this room and everyone listening that 2020 would be their best year yet as they seek you, as they seek Christ no matter how others respond. That they respond faithfully to you no matter the circumstance, good or bad. That we remind ourselves often that you love us so much that you chose to save us no matter the cost. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.