“The Story of God’s Glory”
December 23, 2019, 7:00pm
Are you guys doing well? Yes, so am I. So am I. The holiday season, there’s nothing like it, and if you’re like me the holiday season means movies. You know, with our family, the in-laws, the outlaws, friends, we like to watch movies. Is it just me or are you sometimes overwhelmed by the choices we have with all of the movies? Now and then, Lisa and I will look at Netflix, go through the categories, maybe Hulu, maybe Amazon Prime. And after about 20 minutes of watching previews we go, “Let’s just go to bed.” So many choices. But there are some great classic Christmas films. So, on the count of three, whether you find yourself here in gorgeous Grapevine or in one of our many different locations, I want you to blurt out your favorite, that’s right, your favorite Christmas movie. Out loud, on the count of three, are you ready? One, two, three… “Elf.”
I have a confession to make. We are in church. I was in a movie in 2006. I signed the documents, I even had the SAG card, I think they call it. I was invited by a director to play a supporting role in a movie. There were some reputable actors and actresses in this movie. Patrick Muldoon, I think, The Young and the Restless, and other films. Janine Turner, the Revlon girl, Cliffhanger with Sly Stallone, and also Northern Exposure. So, they invited me to be in this movie. And I was kind of set up to be in the movie, just to be frank with you. I knew some people that sponsored this film and they were like,
“Hey Ed, I want you to come to the set and watch this movie. Have you ever been to a movie set?” and I was like,
“No.” So, I just was on the set just watching. Again, they set me up on the set, because the director walked up and was like,
“You’re Ed Young from Fellowship Church, right?”
“We have a part for you. We want you to play a veterinarian,” because they know I love animals and, “Would you do it?”
I said, “No.”
“No, really, we really want you in this movie. I think you could just have a quick role. It’s the climax of the film. You show up. You save the day.”
I said, “No, I really don’t want to do that. I mean, I just don’t.” Then I started thinking about it. You know, we always have these fantasies, don’t we? Maybe I could act. I don’t know. Maybe. So, I finally said, “OK, OK. I’ll do it.”
So, I want to show you this film, my part, my supporting role, in this movie. Again, low-budget family film entitled Miracle Dogs Too.”
MOVIE CLIP: “Miracle Dogs Too”.
Guys. Think that’s him? Hi, I’m Zach. I’m the one that called you.
Zach, how are you doing? I’m John Moore and man, was I happy to hear from you. Well, I got some friends who want to say thanks. These puppies are miracle dogs too.
Yeah. You can have anyone you want.
Really? Okay. Which one do you want?
I’ll let Sarah choose.
Oh, I like this little guy.
Maybe the rest of the puppies can go with Doctor Jeff. Then he can take them to Rockin’ Oldies whenever one of the patients’ needs to feel better.
You know what? Actually, I have a lot of room at my place and I think that’s very good idea. That’s okay with you, John.
Sounds great to me.
Well, it looks like we got some new dogs. Look at you. Look at you.
Life is definitely a full-length feature film, is it not? And I would argue life is a full-length forever feature film. And I would also say that the Divine Director, God, has invited us to his set to observe this Christmas story, this story line, this script.
If you have your Bibles you might want to turn to the book of Luke, Luke chapter 2. If you don’t, that’s fine. You have the FC app and also, we have view-a-verse. You can follow along. I’m gonna read a story from Luke Chapter 2. Dr. Luke, Luke was a physician, one of the disciples, and he’s gonna tell us about this movie, and about how it kind of unfolded. It’s very, very riveting. Luke 2:8, “And there were in the same country shepherds…” Again, a squad of shepherds. Shepherds were outcasts, and these shepherds were probably tending the sheep used in the sacrificial system. Because back in the day, they would take an innocent lamb, spill its blood on the alter to atone for the sins of man. So, these shepherds were in the shepherd’s fields, they were called, outside of B-town, Bethlehem. “The shepherds were abiding in the field. They were keeping watch over the flock at night.” They were pulling an all-nighter, I’m sure dipping strong espresso.
“And lo…” I like how it says this just matter-of-factly. “The angel of the Lord (probably Gabriel) came upon them and the glory (say the word glory with me), the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid.” What is glory? The glory of God would be the sum total of his attributes. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. His #1 attribute is that of being holy. From holiness you have a holy love, a holy grace, a holy sovereignty. Well, these angels, we’re going to find out, had been outside of the universe. They were just giving glory to God, which, that’s what angels do. In a nanosecond this angel flew through hundreds of billions of stars, looked at this galaxy, that galaxy, and was like, just OK, yeah. It’s that one, the small one. The Milky Way. There’s that little star, the sun, and there’s the blue planet, the Earth, and we’re supposed to be outside, yeah, outside of Bethlehem, it tells me, in the shepherds’ fields. And we see the star and all that, and that’s what happened. So, this angel, Gabriel, who is the messenger angel, he had so much glory on him he literally had to wipe the glory off of his windshield. That’s how much glory. So, that quick.
So many times, we think that God is just a little bit higher than the airliners fly. Just about 55,000-60,000 feet, just right there in the clouds. God is sovereign. He is magnificent. He’s awesome. God is glorious. So, when you hear the word glory, God is glory. It’s the is-ness of God. Don’t worry. You’ll never understand it. No one on planet Earth is smart enough to understand the totality of the glory of God. Yet, the Bible says, real quick, when we die, we go from this life – because this is a forever-feature-length film – we go from this life to Heaven. It’s called Glory. And, you’ll love this, we’ll have new glorified bodies because our bodies now would fry. We couldn’t handle the glory of God. It would take us an eternity just to comprehend the magnificence and the glory of God. Glory.
And I want you to notice something, too. The glory of God is intrinsic. It’s self-generating, self-perpetuating. The glory of God is independent. In other words, God doesn’t need your glory or my glory. He doesn’t need more glory. He’s not like, man, I really need clicks and Likes and views. He is glory. It’s God’s nickname. So what cold is to ice, what wet is to water, glory is to God. Ice doesn’t search for cold. Where’s some cold? No, it just is. Water doesn’t search for wet it’s just wet. God is glory. His attributes and activities are reflected in who he is. It’s the brilliant blaze of who he is. So, we’re made… because someone asked me the other night.
I was at a dinner, it was a really cool dinner, about 75 people were there and I sat, Lisa and I sat by a delightful couple. In fact, two couples, but this one couple, this guy is a brilliant attorney. His wife is a wonderful lady, and we were talking about just different things. And this attorney stopped me in mid-sentence, and he said, “Do you mind if I ask you a question? A theological question? A Biblical question?” and I was like,
“Yeah, I’m not sure I will know the answer but ask me the question.” And he said,
“What’s the meaning of life?” Wow. So, between bites of some incredible beef, I looked at him and said,
“Well, the meaning of life is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.”
What does it mean to glorify God? It means to reflect him in your life and mine, in everything we do, say, touch, and feel. If we miss that, we’ll miss the meaning of why we’re here. Let me say that again. If we miss that, we’ll miss our role. Because I have great news for you. Our great God, the Divine Director, is offering all of us an amazing role in this movie. Are you in his movie? Are you in his movie? His movie is about glory.
“So, the angel came upon these shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.” I would be afraid as well. “And the angel said unto them (verse 10), ‘Fear not, for behold I bring you (you’ve gotta love this!) good tidings of great joy, which shall be a sign to all people.’” God is good. That doesn’t mean we always understand God. There are many things that God does I don’t understand. I still have faith, but I don’t understand God all the time. I have faith in my iPhone 11, but I don’t understand all of the intricacies of it. But I have faith in it.
People are like, “Oh, I just don’t have enough faith to become a Christian.” That’s a bunch of bunk. No, no, no. We have faith in everything we do, say, touch, and feel. So, the deal is we’re made to glorify God, we’re hardwired to glorify God. And we always glorify, human beings, someone or something. And God says if it’s not him then we’re wasting our lives. Just straight up, to put the cards on the table. If we’re not going, well, God, it’s your movie, not mine, then we’re missing understanding who we are, where we’re going, and what’s up with life. This angel announced something just earthshattering. It snapped the heads of the shepherds. People were freaking out. Good tidings of great joy. Again, God is good even when we don’t understand him.
My mother died an excruciating death several years ago. I’ve been around a lot of people. I’ve been in a lot of hospital situations. Being a pastor, I’ve seen a lot of people die. She had a hellacious death. My mother loved the Lord, one of the best Christian women ever. Ever. So, for someone to for someone to come up to me and go, “Oh, Ed. You know what? God is good all the time. You know, he loves you.” That’s not enough.
“Well, you’re forgiven, man.” That’s again not enough. And that’s why so many people turn their backs on God and leave. That’s why so many people leave the church. They don’t understand the glory of God. Stay with me now.
God’s glory is so massive and so huge, it is a net big enough to take our doubts, our questions, our pain, our suffering, and our remorse. The glory of God. How about this? Jesus, living a perfect life, being tortured, dying on the cross for the sins of the world. Something that I don’t deserve, you don’t either. God allowed that. What seemed like defeat was complete victory. So, in many situations in live where we don’t understand, when we say, “God, I don’t understand it! I prayed that my mom would be healed. She wasn’t. I don’t understand it.” One day, God promises me, Ed, you’ll understand the deal. It’s the glory of God. God’s magnificence, his holiness. His ways are higher than our ways. You can’t figure God out. He will get out of every box you try and put him in. God is sovereign. He knows what is going to happen. Yet, we have a freedom of choice. That will blow a circuit in your brain if you’re trying to figure that out. You can’t. That’s where we have to trust. So, glory is happening in this Christmas story. Glory is about the movie that God has for you and me.
So, then the angels, the first angel shows up, then some more angels show up. Verse 11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior…” and I love this. A savior, because we didn’t need a political figure. We didn’t need, like, a coach. We didn’t need some CEO. We needed a Savior because of our sin. He’s a Savior. “… a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Verse 12), And this shall be a sign unto you; You’ll find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths…” White cloths. And I like to say it’s as if it was a peace flag, a surrender flag. “… lying in a manger.” And the manger was the desk where the treaty of peace was signed, sealed, and delivered.
(Verse 13) “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.” And this multitude of heavenly host, they would embarrass Kanye’s choir. Chick-fil-a! I mean, these singers were just absolutely ginormous and ridiculous. And they said two things, and I’m gonna spend the next 9 minutes and 56 seconds on this. That’s all we have left, all the time we have left. They said two things, two things, two things.
#1 – they said, “Glory to God in the highest,” say that with me. Glory to God in the highest. That’s the first thing the angels said. Now, that was at the top of their playlist. They’d been saying that for squillions of years. They’re in Heaven. Glory to God in the highest. Glory to God in the highest. But they added something, the second phrase, “and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” say that with me. And on earth, peace, goodwill toward men. So, the big idea is the glory of God. That’s the #1 billing. The second billing is peace on earth, goodwill toward men. Don’t flip the script. In other words, keep the glory of God on the top shelf and on the bottom shelf it’s about your life and mine. But what I try to do, I will sometimes try and invert that and go no, no, no! It’s about my movie! Oh, it’s about me! I’m the star of the show! And Jesus, come on, man, you can kind of hang out with me, but you’ve got to do what I’m gonna tell you to do. Once you don’t do what I think you should do (like heal my mother) I’m out of here, man. Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. We take the primary and make it secondary and take the secondary and make it primary. We flip the script.
Think about all the different categories that are out there when we choose movies, it’s amazing. And some of the categories are represented right here in this Christmas story, and in this full-length feature film. The first is Drama. Who in here likes drama? The ladies raise their hands, I understand that. Guys, we like drama, too. You know drama, drama. Guys will always say, “I don’t want any drama, man!” Yeah, we do. We like some drama. Well, think about this drama. The devil, he was called Lucifer, was in the heavenlies, and his #1 thing was to glorify God. He got tired of it, so he flipped the script. He tried to usurp God. He tried a kingdom coup. It didn’t work out because he inverted it, he was kicked out of Heaven, a third of the angels fell with him and they are now the realm of the demons, the demonic, in the world our day. And if you don’t think there is evil in the world, if you don’t think there are demons all over the place, wake up and smell the coffee. Get your head out of the sand. Just read the paper. Go online. We all have this southward, downward, natural pull toward depravity. No one taught me how to sin, I just know how to do it. Man, I’m a natural-born sinner, so are you.
Yet I have the ability to compare myself to people who sin more spectacularly than I do. That’s just me. Oh, I am better than him. Oh, I’m better than her. I would never do that! Or sometimes, you know, we have three Prison Campuses at Fellowship Church? You might think, oh, those are criminals! No, one sin, because God is holy, one bad move, one off day, will send you spiritually to prison. It will incarcerate you. That’s why we need a Savior. That’s why it’s such good news. Think about Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve did the same thing. Adam and Eve were born in the Garden of Eden. God made them, you know, and they were glorifying God. And they choice, because of temptation, to flip the script. It’s about me. And it’s about my movie, God, it’s not you. And that’s when sin entered the equation. And the Bible says in Romans 3:23, “For all have (what?) sinned and fallen short of the (there it is) glory of God.” There’s the word again. The glory of God.
So, from there we have Horror. We have man sinning and, as I mentioned earlier in my introductory remarks, you had a lot of people sacrificing animals in the sacrificial system. You know, we’re going to Israel in a couple of days. We’re taking a group of about 100 people over there. If you’ve never been to Israel, you need to go. It’s a life-changing trip. We’re gonna see a lot of the temples and things and we’ll hear a lot of the history of how the sacrificial system worked. They would take an unblemished lamb, spill its blood, and the blood would atone for the sins of the people.
Well, sin must have a payment, and when Adam and Eve sinned, you know what God did? God did something they had never seen before. God took an innocent animal, killed it, spilled its blood on the soils of the Garden, used the coverings of the animal to cover their nakedness, a foreshadowing of a coming attraction.
Don’t you like this coat right here? This coat is pretty sweet, isn’t it? It’s my favorite. A friend of mine made it for me. He told me, he said, “Don’t wear it until the Christmas services.” And I said, “OK.” I thought you’d like this coat. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again, when I became a believer, Galatians 3:27 tells me (check this out), “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have (what?) clothed yourselves with Christ.” I’m clothed with Jesus. It’s not my righteousness, it’s his. It’s not my holiness, it’s his. And that’s what it means to step into this supporting role to be in the movie. We’re born again. We’re saved. We’re rescued. So, we’ve got drama, we’ve got horror. The horror of sin, sin must have a payment. Sin is not like, “my bad,” or “I screwed up,” or “let me take a Mulligan,” or “I made a mistake,” or it’s not some lie some lawyer will write. It’s my responsibility, blah, blah, blah. No, no, no. It’s committing sin, it’s falling short, of God’s glory. So, there’s a gap between ourselves and God that we cannot make up.
I don’t care how philosophical you are, how religious you are, how smart you are, how rich you are, how big you are, how bad you are. One day you’re gonna die. One out of one die, I checked the stats right before I walked out. You’re going to die. But you’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die, and this is a full-length feature film that God wants you to accept. And once you accept it, you’re gonna live forever with him. And it starts right here. Your role starts right here. So, God orchestrated this amazing action and adventure to have Jesus be born in a manger, a crib, and then to live this perfect life, to die on the cross for our sins. So, the crib, the cross. And then to rise again, the empty tomb, the crypt. So, you could say Christmas is (if you want to alliterate) is about the crib, the cross, and the crypt. Action And Adventure.
And on top of that, you’ve got Romance. I’ll end with romance. Romance, that’s a category out there. God has romanced you. You’re not here because of an accident. You’re not here hearing this and experiencing this message because it was just kind of serendipitous. I just happened to show up. I just happened to see something online. Someone just happened to invite me. I mean, my parents drug me (or drugged me here, I don’t know, either one). I’m just… no, no. You are here for a reason. Just as that family that bankrolled that film set me up to be on the set, and to respond to that question, you are here, my friend, sent by the Divine Director himself, you have a chance to step into this role.
But you know what? I can’t make this decision for you. I wish I could, but I can’t. so, we all face – listen to this – a judgment. What do we say? Oh, don’t judge me, man! I’m not judging anybody; I’m just telling you what the Bible says. I’m talking to Christians. Christians face a judgment. It’s not talked about a lot but it’s in the Bible a lot. If you’re a Christian, if you have been robed in righteousness, you will be judged. I don’t mean whether or not you’re going to Heaven or Hell; you’re going to Heaven. But you’ll be judged.
Watch the Academy Awards. You know all the A-listers are walking about the red carpet. The pundits come up: What are you wearing? Who are you wearing? What are you wearing? Who are you wearing? And they’ll name all these designers. As a believer, we’re clothed in Christ, robed in righteousness. And awards are given out. You will be judged as a Christ-follower based on what you did. I’ll be based on what I did, with what God gave me. OK, you accepted the role. It was a supporting role. How did you use your gifts and abilities in this one and only life? Because in life, you’re one and done. One and done. One and done. God is the audience. See, we think because we’re all into social media that people are the audience. And yeah, they are on one level, but the level I’m talking about is God is the audience.
Because there’s One movie: Glory. One villain: the devil. One star: Jesus. One script: The Bible. One audience: God. One theme: the rescue. And one supporting role: it’s for you, my friend. So, are you going to accept the role? That’s the question. Because there’s gonna be levels in Heaven.
What are you doing with what God has given you? Your giftedness, your abilities, your resources, your personality, what are you doing? Because many people think, well, you know I prayed a little prayer and I guess I’m in. Well, maybe you are. But Jesus said, “I will know my followers by what they produce.” Now, obviously we’re saved by grace through faith, period. But also, Jesus will see and know if we’re followers by what we produce: where we go, what we say, what we look at.
Now, there’s another judgment that is for those people who have rejected the role in the movie. People sometimes will tell me; I just can’t follow a God that hurls people to Hell. Well, God does not, let me say it again, I’ll repeat, God does not hurl anyone to Hell. Ever. It’s not in the Bible. It’s never in the Bible. You choose to go to Hell. It’s your choice. It’s God’s will for everyone to go to Heaven. So, if you say no, and many people will, but if you say no to this role, when you die and clock out of here, God will say, “You know what? I want to give you a greater measure of what you desired on earth. You didn’t want to be in my movie and use your gifts and abilities in your role, you said no to me over and over again (and I don’t know how many opportunities you’ll have).” So, God will say, “I will give you a greater measure of what you desired on planet earth and you will spend eternity away from God.”
“Well, yeah, I want to go to Hell because I can party with my friends!” My friend, if your friends are in Hell, you won’t know it. It’s utter isolation. Hell is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. It’s utter regret. You realizing forever and ever you had an opportunity to step into the role and you said no.
Glory to God in the highest! That’s the movie. Peace on earth, goodwill toward men. The role for your soul is absolutely awesome, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s God’s will and his plan to robe you and clothe you in righteousness. To rescue you, to save you and to turn your life around so you’ll see the reason for living in this full-length forever film. But the Director is saying, “This role is for you.” What do you say? Would you pray with me?