New Hope Notes
The World's Response
Pastor Jon Burgess
The Arrival Series is about how we respond when God arrives! May we never lose the awesome sense of the reality of Emanuel—God with us! The very presence of the God of the universe demands a purposeful response. When Emanuel arrived in Bethlehem, no one noticed except for a few shepherds and foreign kings. Today, we will look at the world’s response to the arrival of Jesus so that we would also not miss His arrival. My prayer is that God would use our lives to call a response to the world around us.
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod…When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: ‘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,’” Matthew 2:1,3-6.
The chief priests and the teachers of the law had information about God (they knew the scriptures), but they missed the transformation (Messiah’s arrival)! What if the 400 years of silence was not about God’s inaction, but about our distractions (busy schedules)? Could it be that God has not stopped moving but that we have stopped looking for Him? Have we become too busy doing things for God and completely miss being with Him—having an idea of Him but not experiencing the reality of His presence—that He is!
God is resident in us and wants to show Himself through us.
There are three general negative responses from the world: No Interest, No Room and No Gift. We should counter those worldly responses with three general Christian responses of our own.
1. “NO INTEREST.” Take Interest Through Gigantic Prayers.
People are usually not interested in our God or our church; they have no time for Him. The arrival of Jesus was not because the people deserved it or were looking for Him. In fact, the whole world had turned their backs on God. Romans 5:8,“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Why not follow Jesus’ example? When people are showing us their hand, we offer them our hands in service. We take an interest in them and pray gigantic God sized prayers, contending for their souls because we may be the only ones praying for them! In 2 Corinthians, Paul found the people distracted and caught up in spiritual gifts, religious accusations, and divided with no interest in reaching the people of Corinth with God. They completely missed the miracle right in front of them and Paul called them to an appropriate response to God. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen in eternal.”
Gigantic prayer is looking beyond what we can see and seeing what God sees.
Those who reject God look with their natural eyes; we are called to look with our supernatural eyes (seeing what cannot be seen). Notice the context of what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 4. He lists the many trials and hardships that he experienced and yet in verse 17 he calls them, “our light and momentary troubles.” Paul was not denying the hard times but when he compared them to eternity, there is no comparison! Place on one side of a scale all your insurmountable piles of troubles; on the other side, place just the “pinky” finger of God (eternity with Him forgiven). The “pinky” finger of God far outweighs all your troubles—bringing peace. Peace is the punctuation on the life of prayer! Therefore, Paul was able to say, “I pray for you always.” Whenever you feel overwhelmed, start comparing the size of your troubles to the size of your Gigantic God and become a people of Gigantic Prayers! What can God accomplish through us?
2. “NO ROOM.” Make Room Through God’s Perspective.
Most people do not have room for God in their lives. Let God restore perspective to you and make room for people. When we turned our backs on God, He made room for us. 2 Corinthians 7:1-3,“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you,”
What if God is saying make room for the one that rejected you? Paul was rejected over and over again but instead of pushing them out of his life, he said just give me a little space to speak into your life. Paul had God’s perspective and when they rejected him he said, “I will lay down my life just to see you come to God.” When we do our part, God does His.
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about so be kind always.
3. “NO GIFT.” Break Through As A Generous People.
No one brought any gifts at Jesus’ arrival to Bethlehem, except some foreign kings who traveled hundreds of miles just to be there.
2 Corinthians 9:6-9,“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘He has scattered their gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
Relationships are the only things that we can take to heaven—those we lead to Christ through gigantic prayers, those we get God’s perspective on and make room for, and those we are generous with even though they treat us the opposite way.
God literally woke me up with this vivid dream: I was talking a long time with a man trying to convince him that God is real but he was not interested. I wondered how could I convince him that God is real? Then I noticed a dead branch and thought if God could make that dead branch come to life this guy would surely believe that God was real. So I picked up the dead branch and I looked in front of me and saw a bunch of New Hope prayer warriors and said, “Guys, you gotta pray with me that God would make this branch come to life so that this guy would believe that God is real.” They all said, “Yeah, lets pray!” We started praying and the dead branch came to life and started blooming! We were standing in awe and amazement! I turned around expecting to see the guy in awe as we were but he had his face in his phone and he completely missed the whole thing! I said, “Look what God did. The branch was dead and now it’s alive!” With indifference he said, “What are you talking about? I was checking my updates.” I woke up with the conviction of the Lord on me. I looked at my boys at dinner and told them my dream and apologized for the times that I had missed what God was doing in their lives—I missed the miracles right in front of me!
This is the message that came from my dream: I would be willing to pray gigantic, passionate, resurrection style prayers that people would come to know Christ; that I would take an interest in people even if I am rejected over and again and make room in my life for conversations and get God’s perspective; and be generous and not squander my time with meaningless things that will never add up in eternity. I pray that I would help people know that Jesus loves them.