New Hope Notes
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
Did you know that there are over 6.8 billion birthdays that are celebrated in the world? It’s now nearing 7 billion birthdays. You have to understand that here in America we party a lot, but we don’t celebrate enough. There’s a difference. A party is about me, myself and I. Every football game is just an excuse to party. If you ask people who were the last four winners of the Super Bowl, it’s likely they can’t remember most of them. But they can sure remember they partied! Celebration comes from a Latin word that means “gather to give praise to another.” For example, at someone’s birthday party, you come to give them praise and celebrate them. So, it should be with the birthday of Jesus Christ. We need to learn how to celebrate more as we are on this birthday of Jesus Christ. I’m going to give you some answers for a final exam you’re going to take because there are four birthdays that will be listed in the final exam of life one day that you will need to know and celebrate. This exam is either pass or fail – there is no middle ground. So here is the first birthday that you need to know and celebrate:
The birth of Christ bridges God and man. That’s when we met God, the Redeemer, in the form of Jesus Christ. Think of what this world would be like if there were no Christmas and Jesus never came. We would be immoral barbarians. But, there was an intersection in life where God met man, and we call that the birth of Christ—Christmas. That’s one day we all have to celebrate. Whether you’re a Christian or not, that day is historical because His birth changed everything. Take a look at the etymology of the word, “history.” It’s a hyphenation between His and story. History is really about coming to the person of Christ. Take a look at how everything is dated. It’s dated based on the life of one man’s birth. It’s B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (anno domini—year of the Lord). You’re going to have a lot of naysayers or Scrooges who say they don’t believe in Jesus, but there is empirical, historical proof of Christ’s birth by secular writers such as Josephus Flavius who was a non-Christian. Nevertheless, he writes all about Jesus’ life and what He did which is in history today. You go to every place in the Bible that Jesus mentioned and you can find archaeological and historical digs today. You can prove it, but you still have people who say Christ was never around. Did you know that there is a society out of Florida that has 1700 members, and it’s called the Flat Earth society? They still believe the earth is flat. So, you have people who hold onto their misconceptions as if it were fact. You’re going to have a lot of people who say Jesus never lived, but He did. Remember this: there is not one devil or demon in the universe that is an atheist. They all know about Jesus Christ and about His birthday when everything changed. The second birthday you need to know about is:
You may ask, “What’s so important about my birthday?” If God didn’t choose you, want you around, or have a plan for you, He wouldn’t have created you! Remember we are a procreation. Human beings can get together and have a child, but God is the one that gives the breath of life. He is the one who creates a soul and gives you a future. So, if He didn’t have a plan for you, you wouldn’t exist. But, the Lord had your name written down because He chose you! He has a plan for you. If you’re alive, it tells you that God has a plan for you. He knows you exist. In fact, He tells Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5, “…before you were born, I knew you.” Some might say that not everyone will be in heaven and say that God sends people to hell. No, He doesn’t. You have to work really hard to go to hell. You see, God didn’t make hell for people. In the book of Matthew, it says God made hell for the devil and his demons. What did he make for people? Answer: Heaven. He says, “…in my Father’s house, there are many mansions (Jn. 14:2).” That’s why He created you because He has a plan for you. You can choose to reject that plan, but you will have to work really hard on going to hell after the gospel messages have been preached to you. Bottom line: God created you because He loves you and has a plan for you. He knows what your future is. John 15:16 says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” Even if your parents don’t love you or your friends don’t like you, press into the One who created you because that’s where you will find your identity, security, and courage. How often we go to others who have nothing for us, yet we try to gain value from them. Instead, Jesus says come to Him. The third birthday you need to know and celebrate is:
The day you were born again
When you are born-again, that is the day your whole life changes. The Bible says that unless a man is born again, he will never see the kingdom of God. You’ve got to be willing to let God give you a born-again experience. This is not where His life and the world intersect; it is where His and your life intersect. That’s when things start to come alive. Remember, God does not force truth down your throat, He’ll make it available to you, but ultimately you choose. So, we’ve got to open the door and receive Him in. That’s why the Bible says to get into the Kingdom of Heaven, you have to be born into it. You can’t migrate. You can’t fake the passport. You have to die and be born again. You see, your first birth gives you life on this planet, but your second birth gives you life in eternity. Your second birth should involve you allowing God to live in you where you live for Him rather than yourself. All of us have been given eternal life, but you choose where that eternity is going to be. We can reject Christ, or we can accept Him. The fourth birthday you need to know and celebrate is:
The day you discover for what you were born
God had you born for a purpose, but many of us never find that purpose. We think it’s just to watch and consume, or to work and get more money - only to die afterward. Remember, your career is for what you get paid, but your calling is for what you are made. You better have both. The day you discover what you were born for is a happy day and should be celebrated. Otherwise, you will miss it. Maybe you worked thirty years as a plumber, but that’s not the end of your life. Your career was just a means to an end that is more eternal. Maybe some of you are saying, “I’ve been successful all these years.” Well, maybe it’s time in this season of your life to move away from success to significance. Whatever career you have is just a means to the end. You have to have an eternal spark in your life. The Bible says, “What profits a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). Can you imagine how much we could influence our state for Christ if we just put our heads together as a church? A few weeks back I had a heckler during the prayer of the Honolulu City lights ceremony and now he is going around heckling the many different churches out there. I just thought to myself how much this one guy is causing waves and realized it’s time for us to take a stand and just become like a tsunami in our influence for Christ. That’s why as the church, the body of Christ, we must be willing to hand out forgiveness indiscriminately to one another because we give life to one another and there is something greater than our pride, leisure, ego, and comfort. It’s called the kingdom of God. When you discover what you were made for, your value immeasurably increases.
Four birthdays. Celebrate them. You have to be a part of each and everyone: the birthday of Christ, your birthday, the day you were born-again, and when you become born-again, the day you discover for what you were born. Maybe you are in the process of still trying to figure out for what you were born. If so, jump in to New Hope. There are tons of opportunities here to discover what you like to do, or go out and be something in the public where you can live your life for Christ. Once you know and celebrate all four birthdays, you will have all that Jesus wants you to have in order to begin. Then, He will walk with you into all that He has for you. That’s what Christmas is all about!
1.) If not born again yet, what is holding you back from accepting God?
2.) If born again, have you discovered what you were born for?
3.) What is the difference between a career and a calling?
4.) What is the difference between partying and celebrating?
5.) Why is celebrating your birthday important?