The Great Announcement

Understanding the real meaning of the Christmas story.

James Greer
Dec 9, 2018    29m
In this sermon Pastor Greer helps us understand the real meaning of the Christmas story, and the fruits of the spirit it brought for Christians. He explains it's easy to get caught up in the miracle of the virgin birth, and the magic of the story. Yet, forget the promise that these events brought to us through the the birth, the burial and the resurrection. He explains that because of the birth of Christ there is no sin that is too bad to be forgiven if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. None of this would have been possible without the birth of Christ. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.

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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.

James Greer: 00:00 I'm going to tell you that that was some spectacular Christmas. We had many people accept Christ, had an estimate over two thousand people walk through the campus, five hundred people were already in the system, six hundred and something people that took pictures. They had approximately a thousand people that sat through the Christmas presentation. Now, that was nine services. I know the praise team and them are tired, but they did a fantastic job. I'll tell you what, we'll get ready for the message this day, but I want to tell you something I really learned. I was reading the Christmas message, and I actually realized that we can all have the favor of God. We can not only all have the favor of God, we can experience the miracles of God, we can see the impossible become possible. We've entitled our series for the next few weeks, the Christmas Spectacular, but today it would really be the spectacular announcements of Christ.

James Greer: 00:56 Now see what started out looked like Christ missed, ended up to be Christ miracles. Now see, I like spectacular things. I mean last week I got to see the spectacular fireworks, and it was pretty cool. I got to see the lights, they were spectacular. We had a journey group, Kelly and Donny, they said if we, if we could have 50 shoe boxes, Christmas shoe boxes, they were going to shave his head. I loved watching him get his head shaved, since it was him. But that's pretty spectacular, and he did what he said.

James Greer: 01:28 But the most spectacular announcement in the whole world is the birth of Jesus Christ. What I to do today, is first I just want to read the story, and then I want to share some insight, and then give you an opportunity to respond like Mary did. So let's look at Luke Chapter One, Verse Twenty Six said the following, "In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent an angel to Nazareth to the town of Galilee, to a virgin pledged to marry to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary." The angel went to her with a greeting or an announcement, let's say announcement. Because we're saying this is the great announcement. "You are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Stop right there minute. If there's anything that I wish we'd get across today, and I'll come back to it later, is Mary is now highly favored and God is with her. Mary was not highly favored because of what she did, and what she hadn't done yet. She becomes highly favored when God calls her. And once God calls you, God is with you, and God is for you. But you know what the next verse says, it says, "Mary was greatly troubled." And I'm going to come back, and talk about that, because all these years I've read the story I've said, man, I would be troubled too if I saw an angel. Wouldn't you? Amen? So was that what Mary was troubled about? That's not what it says. I'm sure if an angel came to me, and an angel came you, it would trouble us.

James Greer: 03:00 But it said Mary was greatly troubled at his words, she was troubled at what God had told her. She was troubled about how God said she was favored. She was troubled that she said, God is with her. Wondering what kind of a greeting, what kind of announcement this might be. But the angel said to her, don't be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God. Stop a minute. Can I tell you something? Everybody here, when you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you find favor with God. See so many times when I'm reading the Bible I said, man, they were favored. This person's favored, and God was really with that person. But the story is all about Jesus Christ, it's not about Mary. Mary was good, God used her, God blessed her. But the thing about it is, the story, is that you can be favored and that God can be with you.

James Greer: 03:51 You're going to conceive and give birth to a son, and he's going to call his name Jesus. You know he's going to be great, and he'll be called the son of the most high, and the Lord will give him the throne of his father, David. That hadn't happened yet, but it's going to still happen. Jesus came, and he went, and when he comes back again he will have the throne. It is still to be, it's going to happen. What you're going to find out today, and you'll find out through the Christmas sermon. Every time Jesus says something, if God's word says it, it's going to happen. The greatest comfort you can ever do is to understand, God's word is true, his promises are forever, and you can claim it, and you can be sure that it'll happen to you. The kingdom will never end. It will reign over Jacob's descendants. How is this going to be, Mary asked the angel? Well my goodness, how's it going to be that I'm going to get pregnant, and I never been with a man, I've never even had a sexual relationship? How's that going to be, Mary asked the Angel? Since I'm a what? A virgin. And the angel answered, same thing he tells me and you, how is God going to get you through the most impossible looking situations in your life? How is God going to take the problem that you have and turn it into a purpose? The Holy Spirit comes upon you. When you get saved, the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And what else? And the power of the most high overshadows you.

James Greer: 05:09 So the holy one, to be born, will be called the son of God. And so what he's trying to tell us is listen, the same way that he did an unbelievable with Mary, is the same thing he wants to do with me and you. He wants this powerful one, the holy one, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit wants to come into you. And then he says, I'm going to give you an example of just how powerful it is. Even Elizabeth, your relative who's going to have a child, and she's old. God still uses the old people. Amen. Now, I don't know if he's going to use me that way, but if wants to, it's okay. She said, she's unable to conceive, and she's already in her six month. She was old in age, it looked like it was impossible, God says, let me show you what is impossible. He said, here she is, old, impossible she's already six months pregnant. Why? Because there's nothing impossible with God. What's impossible for God? What's impossible for God? Nothing. Is your problem to big for God? No. Is there anybody too hard for God to save? No. There's absolutely nothing impossible for God.

James Greer: 06:16 And then the key verse, and we'll come back to it later as this, wow, "I am the Lord's servant, Mary answered." I can answer, you can answer. "May your word be fulfilled, and the angel left." If you don't know, verses 37 and 38 are the key to having a miracle in your life. It Is the key to God doing the unbelievable in your life. See, this thing changed everything, this announcement changed everything, this message changes everything. It announced that now God is with us. See before, do you understand that God wouldn't really with us. He was with the prophets, and he was with the priests, and we had to go through them to get to God. Then God said, I want you to know Mary, after this, God is with us. Can I tell you what? Because once you get saved, God is with us, God is for us, God is able to take care of us. You've got to understand if you come to the point, see Mary, it troubled Mary. You've got to come to the point that you understand that God is with you, God is for you, and God is going to take care of you.

James Greer: 07:19 See the other announcement is in Matthew 1:23, he said, "They will call him Emmanuel. (It's God is with us.)" So if you're saved now, God's with us. We don't have to go through any pastor, or priest, or prophet, we just go straight to God. It was a great announcement. The next great announcement, there's absolutely nothing too hard for God. What looked impossible, now can be possible. Another thing when he's talking about there's nothing impossible for God. God says, listen, I don't know what your greatest problem in your life is. Listen to this, now because God is with you. God is for you. Because there's nothing impossible, even your problem, God said, I'll take it and turn it into a purpose. That's good God. God said, no matter what it is, there's nothing too hard for God. There is no person too hard for God to get saved.

James Greer: 08:06 I want to focus in on about three verses, and then I'll give you some keys. All right, key verse number one, Luke Chapter One, Verse Twenty Eight and Thirty. This is the real Christmas story. See, if you're not careful, you'll miss the truth about the story. If you're not careful, you'll focus on Mary and Joseph who are fantastic. But the favor of God is because of God, what he did. See, the angel went to her and said, greetings, you are highly favored, the Lord is with you. That shocked her. Some of you all are here today, and you're shocked that you got the favor of God, and that God is with you, that God is for you. And it troubled her at his words, and she wondered what kind of greeting is this? You're saying, what kind of greeting is it that I have the favor of God, and that God is with me. Because you're going to have problems, and I'm going to have problems, Mary had problems you all, I mean, Mary was engaged to get married. She has to go tell her future husband I'm pregnant, and it's a god thing, I wouldn't try that. But that wasn't what she had planned, her plans were changed. I'm sure she had certain amount of uncertainty in her life. Then you're going through things in your life. Maybe it's uncertainty, maybe it's problems, maybe you don't know what to do, and God said, listen, you're highly favored. When you're highly favored, God calls you out for a specific purpose, to further his kingdom, so you've got to understand. See, even Mary being highly favored, and called out, and be used greatly by God. First of all, she had to go through nine months before Jesus got here, pregnant, Amen. You already? Then she had to go through 31 years, before part of her family accepted that it was true. You all do understand all Jesus' brothers didn't accept him until after the death, the burial and resurrection. But what I want you see is this, when you're highly favored, you ready, and God is with you. No matter what the problem is you're going through, you now have God to go through it with you, and he can give you the power and the peace to go through the problem, no matter what it is. That's what it was, that's what's happened, that's what Christmas is all about. The most unsuccessful people, who think they're not worthy to be used by God, so he talks about the favor.

James Greer: 10:33 Then he's talks about Luke 1:37-38. He said, "For nothing is impossible for God." And I think the reason is because it troubled her in the message that God was giving her. It troubled her to find out that she was favored with God. It troubled her to understand that God was really with her. And then God says, well with God, there is nothing impossible. So to you and to me God said, listen, whatever you're going through, I want you to now there's absolutely nothing impossible for God. Amen.

James Greer: 11:03 Romans 8:31-32, "What then shall I say to these things? If God is for us, (When is God for us? Once we get saved.) Who can be against us?" A lot of things. But who can win? Nobody. "He who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all." I love that. Who did he deliver his son up for? Us. Oh, for those that are saved, those that have favor, those that don't, it's for everybody. That's so important, because I'm going to give you an illustration in a minute. I want you to know that God sent his son to die. He said, listen, I'm giving the greatest gift, I'm giving you the death, the burial, and the resurrection, and it's for us all. "How shall it not with him, also freely give us all things." In other words he said, he died for us for us all, and he got all the things that we need in our life. Now, let me give you some insight. You ready? The most unsuccessful people in the world, usually feel unworthy to be successful. When I'm talking about successful, I'm talking about that abundant life that God promises in John 10:10. I'm talking about the abundant life that he promised, that if you're a Christian, and you've got the favor of God, and you know God's with you and God's for you, you can have a life that's exceedingly, abundantly, above the average life period. I don't care what's going on in your life. Unsuccessful people usually self sabotage themselves, and many times they don't even realize they're doing it, because they don't feel worthy. I know tons of people, I know a guy that I ministered with one time years ago, and we would, get to a certain point in his life, his personal life, his spiritual life, his work life, and he would self sabotage himself over and over and over. I know young people that get to a certain point, and then you self sabotage yourself. I know couples that one of the mates will often self sabotage. You bring destruction, and without knowing, it's because you don't feel like you're worthy, but you can only soar to the level of your self worth. Ooh, that's good brother James. You can only rise to your level of your own self worth, but the truth is none of us are worthy on our own, we're only worthy because of the blood of Jesus Christ. See, there's many Christians that don't even enjoy the answered prayers, or the powerful relationship with God, with others, because of something they've done in their past. And now they think they're past, determines their future, and it does not, because they think now I'm not worthy. If that's the truth, everyone else in here have done something that we shouldn't have done, Amen. And if that was the way, none of us would ever be worthy. We're not worthy because of what we've done, and because of we've what we've not done, we're worthy because of the blessing and blood of Jesus Christ.

James Greer: 13:59 See Mary, I know it's going to shock some of you, but Mary was not chosen because she was so worthy, she became worthy because God chose her. See, the same is true with me and you, were not worthy because what we've done and not done, we're worthy because God chose us. In John 15:16, it says, "You did not choose me, (Jesus speaking.) I chose you and I appointed you." Now you have to respond to the calling, and you're saying, oh no, I chose God, he didn't know me. No you didn't, no, you didn't, he chose you, and you had to respond. When he chose you, he called you and he appointed you. And the way that you know he's calling you, the way he's talking to you, the way he's appointed you, you have something inside of you that's just drawing you to God. It's the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it's conviction, sometimes it's a joy, sometimes it's salvation, sometimes a change in life, but God said, I want you to know something, you didn't really choose me, I chose you. He said, the wonderful thing about choosing you, I also appointed you. In other words, you understand God said, I chose you, I appointed you, I anointed you. And what for, what to do? To bear fruit. Isn't that great? When God chooses you, he not only chose you, but he said, I chose you to bear fruit. What is bear fruit? The fruit of spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. [inaudible] There's the fruit of other people being saved. God said, listen, I chose you, I know anointed you, and I want you to bear fruit, and that fruit shall remain. And then what? And whatever you ask in the father's name will be given to you. Amen. God chose you, you have to respond. He's calling you, you have to respond. He said, listen, I want you to bear fruit, but you've got to do certain things. He said, listen, I want you to pray, I want to answer your prayers. Do you understand, when you really understand? We're going to be preaching in January about prayer. But do you understand? When you understand your chosen, you are highly favored, you're a child of the king, when you ask whatever you want, because when you begin to understand who you are, you ask things that please the father who trains us good.

James Greer: 16:04 I wrote it on a piece of paper this week when I was studying the message, and I can tell you I've written it three times. I probably got 30 pages, and I cut it down to nine, and Debbie had to redo them. But anyway, and I wrote down that what's wrong, why do so many people self-sabotage their self? I wrote down, it shocked me when I found out that Mary was upset because of what the angel told her. If I had just asked you this morning, I said, you know, why was married so troubled? You'd say, man, if I saw an angel, I'd be troubled too, Amen. That's part of it, but that's not what God's word says. It says she was trouble at the words that he said, that she was highly favored, that God was with her.

James Greer: 16:48 So true story. Anyway, I had written this down this week, and I had someone ask me, he said, do you think God could really forgive me for what I did? He told me what it was, and it was many, many years ago, many years ago. And I said, sure, God forgave David, God forgave Paul. I mean, what was David? He was a man after God's own heart, but he did commit adultery, he did commit murder. Paul wrote three fourths of New Testament, and before he did that, he murdered some of the first saints. I think God can. So I said, listen, I said, yeah, I believe God can forgive you, I believe God can give you a fresh start. I never had this question answered this way. I said, have you ever asked God to forgive you? I thought he was going to say, sure I have, all the time. And I was ready, I was going to say, yeah, what it is, you don't believe God's word. And you know me, my BB brain, it always wants to answer before I just know what you're going to say, and I'm just waiting for you to say it where I could say something back. He looked me in the face. Heck no, I've never asked God to forgive me. I said, pardon? You've never asked God to forgive you after you told me all these things? He said, No. I said, well, why not? He said, there's no way I'm worthy to ask God to forgive me. They were serious, the person was serious. And after I caught my breath, I said, you do understand, none of us are worthy? I'm not worthy, you're not worthy, the only reason we are worthy at all is because of the blood of Jesus Christ. When we ask God to forgive us, he no longer even sees our sins, or us as a sinner. The truth is, you understand because of the precious blood of Jesus Christ. When you confess your sins, when God looks at me and you, he looks down through our sin, through the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleansed us from all our sins, and he sees a saint down here. Not because of what I did, not because of what you did, but because of what Jesus Christ and the blood of Jesus did. And that's what he says in First John 1:9, he says, "If you confess your sins, he's faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from (What kind of unrighteousness?) all unrighteousness. And so after he left, man, I just started looking at verses. I said, man, I can't believe that Psalms, 103:12 says, He has taken our sins away from us far as (What?) the east is to the west. Isaiah 43:25 says, "Even I, I'm the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake. I will remember them no more." He doesn't remember your sins. You say, God, please keep forgiving me for that filthy mouth I have, I've already confessed it. He said, what mouth? Forgive me from losing my temper? He said, well, go ask the person to forgive you. Forgive me for those things I shouldn't have done, that I did, and you name them one, two, three, four. And God says, okay, now for my own sake, why his own sake? God said, I'm going to forgive you for my own sake, because God loves us so much, he cannot come into the presence of sin. So he said, I don't want to remember them anymore, so I'm going to send my son, and this was a prophecy of what was going to happen in the future, and then I don't remember it anymore. Jeremiah 311:34 says, "I will forgive their iniquities and their sins, I will remember them no more. Can I tell you something? God wants you to confess your sin. But when he does, I want you to know, God doesn't remember them anymore. First John 1:7 says this, "If I walk in the light, as God himself is in the light, and we have fellowship one for another. (Uh oh, the what?) The blood of Jesus Christ, his son, cleanses us from a few sins." Do you know why I didn't say all?

James Greer: 20:45 Do you know what this particular person told me? He said, you know, I've had nightmares probably for thirty, forty years. I said, you know, are you self-saboteur? He said, no, it's called self-destruction. He said, I was taught that if you crossed the line in your sin that you could never come back. That's the devil. That's not what God's word says. He says, I'll cleanse you from all your sins. But we got to be careful because Proverbs 28:13 says this, "He who covers his sins, will not prosper." Do you understand the devil wants us to cover and conceal and hold onto our sins, where we don't prosper, where we don't have an abundant life? But he that confesses sins, and forsakes them, shall have what? Mercy. Man, I love the mercy of God. It's undeserved forgiveness, it's unearned kindness. But one of the truest sense is not only pardons us from our sins, it pardons us from the punishment that we deserve. See, you're worthy because you confess your sins, you're worthy because Jesus died on the cross, you're worthy to have the what looked like impossible, become possible.

James Greer: 21:58 So what do you have to remember? First of all, we all have doubts. I have doubts, you've got doubts, we all have doubts, right? Don't allow your doubts to lead you to a dead end. Instead, don't let that be the end, let that be the beginning of a new start. Well how can I do that? Because God is with me, God is for me, who can be against me? Fear does not mean you don't have faith. I have fear, you have fear, we all have fear at some time or another. Mary had fear, but faith is believing God's going to do something, before he does it. When you have God's word in a matter that settles it, it's always going to be true. You see, you might have fear, you might have frustration, but listen, when you have Christ and his word, you will never be a failure. It's okay to ask how. She said, how can this be done? And he said, well, easy, the Holy Spirit, and the power of the most high is going to come upon you. Nothing is impossible. How can I really be forgiven? Through the blood of Jesus Christ. How can I really start again? God's a beginner, he wants you to start end, not you're dead end, he wants to give you a new end. How can I make this marriage work? Hey God, takes the things that look impossible, and will make them possible. How can I pay these bill? Hey, God says I'll meet your needs according to my riches. How can I get through this sickness? Like Jason, your brother Steven, who you all are going to, we're going to pray for him. He's going up there, by [inaudible] you're healed, we can just intercede. We'll pray for how can God use me, and move me forward, because I got the favor of God. Listen, the gift, and the answer, and the power of God is on the other side of the problem. See we want to answer on this side, but it's on the other side. See and if Mary hadn't of said, let it be unto me as you said, she would have missed out. God would of taken somebody else. Jesus still would have been delivered, he would have found another virgin. See, I want you to know the blessings of God are on the other side of the what looks like a problem, which really God will turn into his purpose.

James Greer: 23:48 So in closing, let me put it this way, you're highly favored, God is with you, God is for you, and God can meet every need in your life. Don't allow fear and frustrations, and your sins of your past, to keep you from the power and purpose God has for your life. Remember, there's absolutely nothing impossible for God, if you'll simply do what Mary did. And I'm not talking about being a virgin and having a baby. I'm talking about when the Angel of Lord First said, Hey, I want you to know your cousin Elizabeth, payback, she was old, and she got pregnant, she had a child. That was the illustration that God was telling Mary, because when you're with me, there's nothing impossible. Her answer changed everything just like it changed everything in your life, and my life. I'm the Lord's servant, Mary answered, may it be to me as you have said, and the angel left.

James Greer: 25:02 You have to hear from God if you want the miracles and power of God. To Mary God used an angel, today mainly God uses his word. You can come to this church, and if we're preaching the word, the word can swell up in your heart. And God can speak to you, and he can draw you. And he can move you to change to be the miracle's impossible, to understand that you are highly favored. You understand that there's absolutely nothing too hard for God, so you have to hear from God. To hear from God you've got to make sure you've got access to God, and we get access through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man can come to the father, but by me. So if you're here today, and you've never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior to forgive you from sin, when I give the invitation, that's the start. But first she had to hear from God, then she had the key to finding the purpose and the power and the peace. She said, Lord, I'm your servant. You want to change your life, Lord, I'm your servant. Do you know what that means? It's no longer all about me, I want to be your servant. Second, she said, may it be to me, as you've said. Lord, whatever it is you want me to do, however you want me to do it, I'm just willing to do it because I'm yours. That's when the angel left. That's when the miracle began.

James Greer: 26:35 And God still wants it to work in your life. He doesn't want life to be all about you, he wants you to surrender, and life be all about him. See, the devil makes us believe if we surrender our life, and we say, God, let me be your servant, you think of all the things you're going to miss. That's not true. It's all the things you're going to receive, all the new power, all the new presence, all the new answers from God, all the new peace, all the new joy. So some of you, you hear from God today, and you get some [inaudible] without knowing it, life has been all about me. I've got to have my way, I've got to have it when I want it, and when I don't get it my way, I throw a fit. ? Are you all ready? You do understand how you display real love is usually in your home, in your own marriage. One of the main purposes of marriage was to teach other people what love was. And how we respond in disagreements, how we respond when we don't want to go the same way, how we respond when we want our own way. God said, Mary said, first thing, she didn't even say, I don't know what Joseph's going to say. I'm engaged, I've got to tell Joseph. She said, my response to God was not contingent on what Joseph said. My response to God was not dependent on what my family was going to say. My response to God wasn't dependent on everybody would think I was a shame. My response was, God here I am, I am your servant. My response to Journey Church this morning is, I want you to just come and say, God, here I am, I'm your servant, I'll do whatever you say. Because his word will always come true.

James Greer: 28:12 Stand and let me pray with you, and pray for you. God, you're such a powerful God there's absolutely nothing too hard for you. For those people that are here today, God, that came with what looked like impossible situation. I pray that your faith, you would speak to them, God, that they can hear from you. God, I pray every single one of us, you know, that would come in today, were not worried, were not contingent upon what our mate say, what our people say, what our kids say, what our job says. God, we just say, hey, we're your servants. Be unto me, as you said God. And saying, God, I'm going to just do whatever I learned in your word, what you say I'm going to do it. I'm going to quit worrying about how, because you said, hey, how? What do you mean how? The power and presence of God comes upon your life? God, I know this morning that if it's to join the church, or follow through in baptism, or man, just rededicate our lives, and say, God, here I am, use me. Or if you need somebody just to pray with you, to pray for you. The Bible said, and all that are heavy laden come unto me, and this morning you can find rest. In the precious name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360