Wanna Go For A Walk

God worked in mysterious ways to coordinate the birth of Jesus.

Douglas Poole
Dec 16, 2018    29m
In this sermon Pastor Douglas Poole talks about what we can learn about how God works in our lives from the birth of Jesus. He explains that in everyday life, we often fail to see God's hand leading us to where we need to be. He said an example of this comes from all of the events that had to occur for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, therefore fulfilling the prophecies. What can seem like random, unrelated, events can actually be a grand plan put in place by God. He then suggests you look at your own life, and see if you can recognize where God has worked. Video recorded at Clearwater, Florida.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Douglas Poole: 00:03 Hey, quick question, have you ever been in the exact same place at the exact same time with somebody, and then totally miss that they were there? Yeah, I had that happen a couple of years ago, actually the wine fest in downtown Safety Harbor. Every year our church has a booth down there. We send our band down and they play, and we have a booth and we hand out cheese and wine. But anyway, so we hand out cheese, and then have conversations with people introducing ourselves, inviting them to church. So when the Saturday night service was over, Jackie and I immediately went to the car to go down to the wine fest to experience it. And if you've ever tried to get downtown Safety Harbor in the wine festival, it's like next to impossible, right? You've got to park, you know, twenty blocks away and all the rest of that, and get there. So we parked twenty blocks away, and we walk in. And I walk up and our band is playing an intersection, and they have created a scene, such a scene. The people, they are just rocking, and the people have gathered around and they're swaying back and forth to the music and dancing in the intersection. And I'm just like, wow. I thought man, if I could just get some of these people come to our church, maybe you could teach us a few things. But anyway, as I am walking up I thought that is awesome and amazing. And so then I walk over to our booth, and I we thanked our volunteers for serving and handing out cheese. And then we walked ten blocks back to our car and we're driving off. And just as we're driving I get a text, a text from a very close dear friend of decades lives in Tampa who had come over to the wine fest. And you know, he texts, he says, dude, your church band is amazing. He says, people are literally dancing in the street. You ought to be here. You know, so I was like what, are you kidding me? You know, I was just there. And so I pick up the phone and I call him, and discovered we were in the same place at the same time and we totally missed each other, and we're both so frustrated because we hadn't connected in a couple of months. And we always have such fun, too much fun, but fun when we get together. And I thought, oh, I missed this opportunity, to be with him.

Douglas Poole: 02:14 Question, do you think it's possible to do that with God? Maybe you were like in a space where God's doing something, and you're not even aware. Or maybe you're in this place where God is shaping some folks, and things are taking place and you're there, and somehow you miss it. I mean I think it's possible, because I'm quite confident I've done it myself on a few occasions. And when it happens it always first like such a tragedy because what I've discovered in walking with Jesus is that when I'm walking with him, he shapes me to become a man I could becoming my own. And when I'm walking with him, there are things I can do I could never do without him, and it's beautiful and wonderful things. And so I realized what a tragedy to be right there, and the beautiful, wise, powerful, loving one, Jesus who makes such a difference and such a transformation, he's there and I missed it. And there was an opportunity for me to develop and grow, or an opportunity for me to be a part of something beautiful and something that can be life changing, and it was right there and I missed it.

Douglas Poole: 03:37 Today we're going to talk about that, and how do we manage this, and how do we deal with these things. And so before I go any further, if this is your first time with this, we've been in a series called Three Miles per Hour. And it's a series that has been going on for a long time because it keeps getting interrupted by things like an elf you know, last weekend, and Thanksgiving. They keep interrupting my series these dates, but we're calling it three miles per hour because the average walking speed of a human being is three miles an hour. And so what we're doing is we're looking at moments in time where people walked with Jesus, and as they walked with him, they literally became somebody that they could never become in their own. They did things they can ever do on their own. And we're looking for these transferable principles. How does this apply to my life? Because there's a person I want to become that's more than who I am, and there's things that I want to do in this world that are greater than what I'm currently doing, so we're going to continue in that.

Douglas Poole: 04:41 And since Christmas, you know, next weekend we get into Christmas, I thought it would be good to look at some moments in the first Christmas, where this very thing happened. Jesus is present, God is doing a work, and people flat out missed it.

Douglas Poole: 05:00 All right, I'm going to read for you this moment, it's in the Gospel of Luke Chapter Two, and we'll put it up on the screens. You can follow along if you like. And if you watch Charlie Brown Christmas, you're familiar with this passage of scripture. Here we go, Luke two, "In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and Line of David. He went there to register with Mary who was pledged to be married to him, and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths, placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn."

Douglas Poole: 06:01 Alright, this moment in history is utterly and completely unique. It is a moment that never, ever had happened in all of eternity past, and a moment that's never going to happen again in eternity future. It's a moment where we're God himself steps into humanity, walks among us, becoming one of us. It is this moment where God, who is spirit, takes on flesh and blood. It is this moment where God who is eternal and transcended, steps into time and space, and he becomes humanities singular hope, and he said his name is Jesus. So this moment, it stands apart from any other moment in human history in all of eternity, and it's a moment that nevertheless it has shaped every other moment that will ever happen all throughout time, and all throughout history, it's that powerful. And so even though it's a unique moment in time and space, I think there are some timeless and universal principles that we need to wrap our minds around and we need to learn from, so that there are some beautiful things God can do when we do this.

Douglas Poole: 07:24 And so I read this account like I've read other accounts in scripture, maybe you felt the same at times, that you know like I wish I'd been there. Wouldn't that have been awesome to have been in Bethlehem that day? You know, because in my mind when I imagine the scene, it would have been Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Douglas, you know, boom. I'd be in your Nativity scene, somewhere you get every year you'd get me out a little figurine, who's this Douglas guy? But I imagine that I would've been there, right? Cause I would have been aware of what was going on. And maybe you've had a similar sort of thought. If we'd only been present in some of these moments, you know, oh, I would believe and it'd be so inspiring. But I read this narrative, know what it reminds me. There was only a handful of people who were aware that day that Jesus was there, and God was doing something remarkable in history. Mary and Joseph, and some unnamed shepherds, and later the Maji who came from a distance, and it astonishes me friends that one of history's most significant moments when God steps into our human story, and the world is unaware of it. People are just going on with their lives, you know, unaware that the one of the most significant moments in all of human history is happening. And what terrifies me, there were people who were like inches away, yards away, who missed this moment that God is here and God is doing something. There was people living next door, there were people who heard the baby crying, and they went on with their business and on with their day of whatever they were doing, and totally missed the fact that God had just broken into human history and something miraculous was happening. It terrifies me to think we can do the same, because sometimes friends we can just be inches away. God is so near to us, but we are so unaware of him, because we're so caught up into everything else that is going on our lives around us. And so I wonder if I had been there, would I have been aware? Because the masses of humanity on that day were clueless that one of history's most significant moments was taking place, and I wonder how many times in our lives we're just like inches away. We're so close from these moments that could just totally do something transforming in our lives, and we miss it that God is there and God is doing something. Because we're so preoccupied on what's going on around us, and the challenges that we're faced with, the difficulties we've got to overcome, and so he walked among them and they knew him not.

Douglas Poole: 10:18 So how do we live. so we do not miss the one who walks among us? You know, think of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds of the magi with me, alright? What are the chances that they were in the right place, at the right time, for the right event? Right? Think of that, this moment when God steps in. Bethlehem was just another sleepy little town in Judea. So how did they get there? Well, let's read the account again, verse number one of chapter two, let's look at it again, it says, "In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (And by the way, it was a big Roman world at that time.) This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to register." Isn't that exciting? Doesn't history just jump off the pages, boom, and grab you, right? What a page turner, right? To read about a census taking place. It's a story about a Roman Empire who was convinced they need to extract some more money from their citizens, and those they've conquered, to fill their coffers for their desires to rule the world. And so since we want more money from these people, we're going to tax them. And if we're going to tax them, we got to make sure we have everybody on the rolls. So everybody, wherever you are in the Roman Empire, you must to your place of origin and register so we can count your nose, and so we can know that you are being taxed. Rather stimulating and inspiring story, isn't it? It's just words telling us about something is about to happen in human history, but happening in a real time, in a real place with real people. But friends is also a story about how God is orchestrating events in human history, to get some people to the right place at the right time. This is an empire that didn't know God, an empire that didn't serve God. In fact, this is an empire were Caesar's declared himself to be God, and so Caesar decides I'm God, I want some more money. How does that always get together? I guess if you watched televangelists, you'll figure it out. But anyway I want more money, and so everybody I've decided you're going to go to your hometown, you're going to register, and I'm going to tax you. You're going to do my will. So Caesar is convinced he has orchestrated these events, doesn't he? What he doesn't realize here, this passage is telling us, he's not the biggest hot shot that he thought he was. That he's not orchestrating this, God is.

Douglas Poole: 13:20 Because the ancient prophets have said that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and so God is superseding, presiding, over an empire because he wants to move Mary and Joseph the Bethlehem. Presiding over the whole event, and Caesar thinks it's his will, he doesn't understand that God is writing a story through our story. Have you ever felt like the world is out of control? Like every day, right? And God's just not paying attention. I think a lot of us think we're just being moved about, we're just being controlled against our will by somebody else. The empire is forcing us to do things we don't want to do, right, and it's like out of our control. And we look at the things going on in the government, we look at things in our jobs, look at people who have authority in our lives, and they're just kind of moving us about. Do you ever feel like maybe life is the obstacle that keeps you from the life you want to live? And so oftentimes friends, what we think is God works outside of everyday life. If God's going to go to work, it's not going to be through a census. If God's going to go to work, it's not going to be through a man like Caesar, I mean he thinks he's God for crying out loud. So we think God works out of every everyday life, but God is using the circumstances here of everyday life to put Mary and Joseph in the exact place they needed to be. By the way, do you think being nine months pregnant and riding a donkey across country was on Mary's bucket list, right? I don't think so, right? Like really? This is not my decision, somebody else decided this. What if I lose this child, I'm nine months pregnant, and now I got to traverse across the country. Why is it that people of authority in my life keep making decisions that just affect me? It's uncomfortable, it's frustrating, I don't want to have my baby there.

Douglas Poole: 15:37 How many times, how many times friends, have we been, you know, something happens in our lives and maybe it's somebody else's decision? Or maybe it's beyond our control, and we've just gotten so upset and so angry and so bitter and all we do is see how maddening this is, how frustrating and difficult this is? And all we see is these circumstances, and we don't even consider the fact that maybe just maybe God is moving you to the place you need to be. Maybe God is shaping you to become the person you need to be, because there was something beautiful God wants to do. I think of the times in my own life, friends, I did not like what was going on, I felt like it was out of my control. But it was God who was at work, and I didn't see it at the time, and all I could do was get mad at people and frustrated with others and blame. Instead of looking for Jesus in the deal, instead of saying, God, God, are you in this someway, somehow? I don't know, it's just such a mess, and it's so painful, it's so frustrating, but maybe God are at work in this because there's something you're wanting to do. And all I could see what was around me, and I missed the opportunity to do something beautiful.

Douglas Poole: 17:01 And friends, sometimes we find ourselves fighting God who was answering our prayers. I mean, I think sometimes things I've prayed about, and then all of a sudden there was these difficulties, these challenges, these setbacks and these frustrations like, well, this is awesome God. And I'm finding God in the process of him moving me to where I needed to be, and shaping me to be the person I needed to be, so he could do this beautiful thing. Here I was, he was answering my prayer, and I'm kicking and screaming the whole way. It looks good on your resume by the way. So we find ourselves fighting life, and fighting God, instead of looking for what God is doing. And we see our circumstances as an utter inconvenience, and not as an invitation from God to step into something. Sometimes it's easier to stay where we are. Then to go where we need to be.

Douglas Poole: 18:02 Verse four, let's continue the story, "So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David because he belonged to the house and Line of David." We get that, he goes to Bethlehem. Why? Because he is from the Line of David. That's where he has to go.

Douglas Poole: 18:21 Verse Five, "He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him, and was expecting a child." Wrap your mind around this, if Mary was pledged to be married to somebody else, she wouldn't have ended up in Bethlehem. She would have married a different guy, and she would have ended up in a different place, and Jesus would have been born in Tulsa. But no, no, where was the sacred to be born? Bethlehem. Who's she pledged to be married to? Joseph, who's not living in Bethlehem. Caesar, we're going to do a census so I can increase taxes, so go back to your hometown. Just happens to be when she's nine months pregnant. And so the savior of the world, God, steps into humanity where? Bethlehem. Do you see God's hands all over this now? I'm sure at the time, I don't know how Mary and Joseph could see the hand of God in the taxes, and going across the country.

Douglas Poole: 19:42 Friends, sometimes God uses people to get us to walk with Jesus. People you may think, well, they're just a coworker, just a friend, just a neighbor, but oftentimes there is somebody, God is using you to introduce you to the one who wants to do something remarkably, utterly beautiful in your life and through your life.

Douglas Poole: 20:16 Number of years ago, decades ago, decades ago now, I met a guy and it was one of those guys, maybe you meet somebody and like you hit it off right away. And you just find yourself, you get lost in a conversation with them. And I met this guy, we got kind of lost in conversation. In some ways we couldn't be any different when it came to matters of faith. Some ways we can be more of the same when it came to matters of like nature, adventure, risk taking, you know, deep conversations about things that are going on around that will challenge you to think. And so we developed this fast friendship even though we didn't share some things with faith. And so there came a time when I said to him, we were alone, we were on top of the hill looking over the city at night and it was beautiful, and we had hiked and done some work. And I just said, how is it that we're sitting here together? How is this man? And I said, what are the odds, and I said, like, what are your friends say? Because he's a scientist. and I'm a pastor. What do your scientist friends say when you tell them one of your best friends is a pastor. He said, they say, what? And he said what do your pastor friends say when you tell them like one of your best friends is a scientist? And I said, man, you know, we've done a lot together, and so much has happened, and we've done so much life. I said, what do you think man, do you think this is purely coincidence that we're here and we've developed, or you think maybe it's providential. I said if it's coincidental, like, I'm good with that, and an amazing coincidence. I said but if it's providential then maybe, just maybe, there really is this God who is seeking you, and he's put me in your life and maybe we should take this conversation to a different level. What do you think? And it led to a conversation, and another conversation, and another conversations, and today my good friend is a follower of Jesus. God used Joseph to get Mary where she needed to be. Sometimes God uses people in our lives to get us where we need to be. It is through other people oftentimes we become aware of the presence of Jesus.

Douglas Poole: 22:46 Verse six, "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." I grew up in Nebraska, spending weekends on our family farm. I've told you about that. And every other chance I could, I was on the family farm. We had a barn, and we also had some milk cows, and I can tell you from personal experience, they're not the most sanitary of places. We had a dirt floor, and these cows were not house trained, and they felt free to relieve themselves whenever they want it to. So you had to watch your step, and the odors could be rather pungent at times. Not an ideal place to give birth, because a manger is really a poor substitute for a cradle. Sometimes I think you know, it's hard to imagine the one who was utterly and holy pure being born in such a despicable setting. I think one of the reasons Jesus was born in such a despicable, messy, place, is that God wanted us to know he's more than willing to step into any mess so we can walk with him. He's more than willing to be born in this messy, despicable, environment where the animals are present. He will step into any mess, and be with us, that he might walk with us into the future. And so that's part of the beauty, there is no mess you can create that could become so despicable, or so shameful, that he's not willing to step into that mess with you and say, I am here with you, and we will walk together into a future to create something that is beautiful. We have just got to be aware of his presence, it is here. And friends, you see walking with Jesus doesn't mean you got to clean up your act first before he'll walk with you. You don't have to be perfect, you don't have to have it all together, all you have to do is say yes to him. He is not put off by messes that we create, he was born in a mess. And he wants to walk with you, to commune with you. And as you walk with him, it will be his grace and his strength and his power that will lead you to who you are to become, that will help you to do what he's called you to do. You'll go to places you could never go if it were not for him. He moved heaven and earth to get Mary and Joseph were they needed to be, and friends he will move heaven and earth to get to you. And maybe just maybe your being here today is not some kind of an accident, maybe God puts somebody in your life, and they invited you here. Maybe he put some thought in your head, maybe you were driving by and you're like, yeah, we'll try that place. I don't know, but maybe God himself has arranged things to have you here this day because he wants to communicate to you, he wants to walk with you, he's inviting you to the life that is life. He's demonstrated that he will meet you in any mess, he's put people in your life so you'd be aware of his presence, are you walking with him?

Douglas Poole: 26:35 Do you want to walk with him? He's inviting you, you just have to say yes to him. Maybe today is your day, you give your life to him. Today is the day you walk with him into the future that is waiting to be created, and all you have to do is to say yes to him. To say, Jesus, I give him my life, and it starts you on a lifelong walk with him to the future. To become the person you can never become on your own, to do the things you could never, never accomplish on your own, but just begins by saying, yes, Jesus, I give you my life. And if you've never done that, never made that step, you know, don't let this year closeout, don't let this Christmas go through without walking with Jesus. And all you have to do is just honestly, sincerely, just the in your mind, just silently pray, Jesus, I give my life to you. Jesus, I give my life to you. He came, he was born into humanity, he took on flesh and blood, he gave his life, he rose again. That we might have life that is full today, and life everlasting in his presence. And it begins by just saying, Jesus, I give my life to you. I invite you to pray that prayer in your mind if that's where you are, he'll meet you.

Douglas Poole: 27:45 All right, let's pray. Father, thank you for being the God who's not repulsed and repelled by our messes, but the God who steps into our messes, and walks with us and leads us to something beautiful. Father, for some of us, you know decisions have been made by some empire, it feels like out of our control. And it feels like it's just resulting in inconvenience for us, and we've been wrestling and fighting against it. Lord, maybe, maybe, just maybe, this day that it's you who's orchestrating the events. Because there's this person you want us to be, there's this thing you want to do, when you're taking us to that place. So Lord, help us to look and to see you. To ask Jesus, where are you in this? To cooperate with you, and stop fighting against you. Father, for some of us, we've never come to this place where we said, Jesus, I want to walk with you. I pray that this would be the day, this would be the moment, Lord, that folks would just be, Jesus, I give you my life. Help us to walk into this Christmas season next week, and help us to walk into this New Year with you. And everybody agreed and said, Amen.

Recorded in Clearwater, Florida.
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