Herod | A Promise of Peace Week 4

“Peace on earth, good will to men.” Yeah, right—not these days. How is our Christmas supposed to be peaceful when it feels like there’s opposition and resistance everywhere we look? Everywhere we turn, there’s someone or something else tearing apart our hopes for peace this Christmas. If that’s how you feel, then you’re not alone—this is exactly the sort of situation Jesus himself arrived in two thousand years ago. Today Brian talks about how we let go of our plans and make room for the peace Jesus offers.

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    There's a part of the Christmas story
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    that you've probably never heard before,
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    but could change your life
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    and bring you peace this Christmas.
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    Hey, I'm Kyle. Welcome to Crossroads.
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    And I'm going to make an assumption
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    that we all know the same Christmas story, right?
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    You've got Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the wise man.
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    But what about everybody else?
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    I mean, is there anybody else?
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    Well, the truth is, the Christmas story
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    goes much further than just your classic nativity scene.
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    And today we're going to uncover
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    some of the unexpected supporting characters
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    at Christmas, people left in the shadows,
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    but who holds significance for our lives today.
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    You can unlock the peace that you need this Christmas.
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    I've asked our senior pastor, Brian,
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    to tell us Herod's story.
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    - No one, no one can beat the plan of God.
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    Christmas is about God's promise of real peace,
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    real peace found in resolving your conflict
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    with King Jesus.
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    How you react to the king
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    determines whether or not you're going to have peace.
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    I'm Brian. Welcome the Crossroads.
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    We're looking for peace this Christmas, at least I am.
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    Do you want some? I do.
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    And we're looking for it in some of the characters
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    in the Christmas story that
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    aren't talked about all that much.
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    Today, we're going to talk about Herod.
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    You might have heard of Herod before,
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    but you probably haven't heard
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    the things we're going to look at.
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    That he was a middle manager.
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    He was incredibly angry.
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    And he died one of the most brutal, disgusting ways
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    you could possibly imagine.
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    Let's just take a look at the original Christmas story
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    in Matthew 2:1. Here's what it says:
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    Now, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea
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    in the days of Herod the King,
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    behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem
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    saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?
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    For we saw His star when it rose
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    and have come to worship Him."
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    When Herod the King heard this, he was troubled,
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    and all Jerusalem with him.
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    And assembling all the chief priests
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    and the scribes of the people inquired of them
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    where the Christ was to be born.
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    Inquires where the Christ was to be born,
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    but he doesn't want to know for any other reason
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    than to protect his turf.
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    And his turf isn't what he wanted it to be.
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    You had the emperor of Rome
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    and you had all the other rest of the Jews,
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    and here you had Herod, who was right in between,
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    who was entrusted in a role as a middle manager
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    by the emperor of Rome to get him taxes and such.
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    And you had these people who are Jews
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    who didn't like him at all.
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    He's known as Herod the Great.
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    And I think it's important to note that this is
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    one of those times when, again and again and again,
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    the Bible actually proves to be true.
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    There's a guy in here named Herod
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    and history has discovered his tomb.
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    Israeli archeologists in 2007 at the site of
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    the City of Herodium, eight miles south of Jerusalem,
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    found his broken sarcophagus.
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    That's a box where bones are put.
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    But no corpse, someone had stolen him.
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    He had the title of King, King Herod,
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    but he actually wasn't the king.
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    He was just a middle manager who had a level
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    of authority from the Emperor of Rome,
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    and nobody liked him, nobody respected him.
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    His Roman boss abused him, and his subjects hated him
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    because his father was Arabic, not Jewish.
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    So he was seen as a quote unquote half breed.
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    They had massive race problems back then,
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    just like we do in America today.
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    Everyone looking to one up somebody else
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    or think that somebody else is less than them
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    or less less purebred than them,
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    and they considered him, the Jews, an outsider.
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    So Harod decided to make them love and respect him,
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    or at least make sure they knew to fear him.
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    See, he never got any peace and he never got any peace
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    because he was never content with where he was.
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    He was always trying to prove something.
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    He always wanted something more.
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    He always was trying to prove other people wrong.
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    You and I are going have to do better
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    if we want to have peace.
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    He was the great, not because he was admirable,
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    but because he did things as a master manipulator
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    to win the approval of Jewish people.
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    He also was great because he was an amazing architect,
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    had some of the most amazing building plans
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    that the history of the world has ever known.
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    One of them is the Masada fortress.
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    I've been to it a bunch of times.
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    There was a movie made on it a long, long time ago.
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    It's on the Dead Sea.
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    It's this huge, massive fortress
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    that overlooks the The Dead Sea,
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    and the Romans later on had to suppress the coup
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    that the McKibben's had done inside of this fortress,
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    and they couldn't get up to it.
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    So they devastated miles and miles and miles,
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    every timber they could find and stacked it up
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    for a ramp and then tamped the sand down
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    to go up there and get at these folks.
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    Herod knew how to make a place that was impregnable.
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    He did not just be a great builder,
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    but he did it because he knew it had military value
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    for the Romans and he would sell it for a lot,
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    a lot of jack.
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    He knew how to make money.
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    He knew how to exert his force.
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    And even though he gave Rome vast riches,
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    and even though he tried to build the Jewish people
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    a Grand Temple in hopes that they would accept him,
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    they never did.
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    The Port of Caesarea he designed, he brought --
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    he brought Judea a massive amount of wealth
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    with this port, this deep water thing
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    that he had enabled, but no one still ever liked him.
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    He just tried to hard.
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    He was never a content with himself,
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    and he was always trying to push people down
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    and exalt himself.
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    You can't have peace that way.
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    At best, all of us are middle managers.
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    God's in control, God's the King, not me.
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    He's working a plan.
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    I know this doesn't sound good
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    to the self-esteem cult members that we have
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    in 21st century America, but you and I,
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    we just don't matter that much. We don't.
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    There's a king that's in control. He's got plans.
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    His plans are more important than my plans,
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    and I hope I fit into them.
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    And I want to do the role that He gives me
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    as a middle manager, but the things
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    that He's given me to manage and oversee
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    they're all actually His.
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    There is a role we're all meant to play in this world.
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    It may not be as big in grandiose
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    as the dreams we have for ourselves.
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    We've got to get at peace with them
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    or else we're not going to have peace.
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    Herod couldn't be the Emperor of Rome, he can't be king.
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    That position is already filled.
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    It was on an earthly level, it was Caesar.
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    And on an ultimate level,
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    his name would actually be Jesus.
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    Matthew 2:7, we see Herod
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    being the manipulative middle manager.
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    Let's take a look at what it says:
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    Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly
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    and ascertained from them
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    what time the star had appeared.
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    They sent them to Bethlehem saying,
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    "Go and search diligently for the child,
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    for when you have found him, bring me word
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    that I too may come and worship him."
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    That I too may come and worship him.
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    Yeah, right.
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    Herod had zero interest in worshiping anybody,
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    he just wanting to put other people down.
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    He didn't want to exalt anybody else.
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    When you want to be adored and worshiped
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    by other people, they will let you down all the time.
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    And Herod became angry.
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    In the great quote from Elf:
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    - He's an angry elf.
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    So Buddy said to Tyrion, Remember that?
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    No, not Tyrion, that's Game of Thrones. Same actor.
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    He's an angry elf, Buddy would look at Herod and say,
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    "You're a maniacal,
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    out-of-control anger maniac elf."
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    You can't have your Christmas cheer on
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    when you're not at peace and when you're angry.
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    His architectural genius is remembered to this day.
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    However, all of his achievements
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    were never enough to give him peace.
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    His anger always got the most of him,
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    and everybody around him got the brunt of it.
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    His family was constantly plotting his downfall,
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    so he had them murdered.
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    He killed his father in law,
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    several of his 10 wives, 10 count them,
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    and two of his sons.
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    Nobody in Herod's family had any peace at all,
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    because if Herod wasn't happy, wasn't nobody happy?
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    That's what it's like for you and I,
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    when we're not at peace, everybody around us suffers:
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    our family suffer,
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    the people we work for or who work for us suffer.
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    We suffer, our own physical health suffers.
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    Anger never gets anybody anywhere.
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    And yet we all have justification
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    for why we're as angry as we are.
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    And all those idiots aren't doing what they should do
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    and why they don't pay attention to my thoughts
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    and yada yada yada.
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    And no one loses except us.
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    Peace has an amazing payout. Anger only extracts.
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    And Herod had nothing but energy and life
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    sapped out of him as he kept trying to power up
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    on people and squelch people who weren't doing
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    what he thought they should be doing.
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    Let's go back to our story, Matthew 2:9:
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    After listening to the King, they went on their way
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    and behold, the star that they had seen
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    when it rose went before them until it came to rest
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    over the place where the child was.
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    When they saw the star
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    they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
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    And going into the house, they saw the child
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    with Mary, His mother,
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    and they fell down and worshiped Him.
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    Then opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts:
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    gold and frankincense and myrrh.
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    And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
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    they departed to their own country, by another way.
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    - We're about to continue with the story of Herod,
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    but first, I want you to know that Crossroads
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    is a community that you can belong to
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    no matter where you live.
  • 00:10:06
    If at any point in this episode you have questions,
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    you want prayer, or you want to know more
  • 00:10:11
    about belonging to this community,
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    just go to online.crossroads.net.
  • 00:10:15
    You know, Crossroads is funded by people
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    who believe in what we're doing
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    and want to see more of it.
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    If you're a giver, thank you.
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    And if you want to join our mission,
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    you can give a crossroads.net/give.
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    And as the year comes to an end, we would love
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    if you considered Crossroads
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    as a part of your year end giving.
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    If you want to see exactly where the money goes
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    and the impact we're having across the globe,
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    again, just go to Crossroads.net/give.
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    Now back to Brian.
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    - The maja were not going to be pawns
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    in Herod's twisted game.
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    They come before Jesus, they worship Him.
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    I have to believe they found some level of peace
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    and they choose to go home a different way
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    so they don't have to interact with Herod again
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    and give up the whereabouts of Jesus,
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    who is going to be the ultimate eternal king.
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    Herod, his lack of peace never works for him.
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    And being an awful middle manager,
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    being an anger fiend, it never works for him.
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    Up to the very, very end he dies, just like all of us,
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    you know, all of us are going to die.
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    The death rate is hovering right around 100%.
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    But he dies in an amazingly brutal way,
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    and he kind of foresaw that he was going to die
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    and he took steps to make sure things
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    went the way he wanted them to.
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    He left explicit orders with his sister, Salone,
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    that in the event of his death,
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    she was to order the execution of a group
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    of prominent and popular public figures
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    so that guaranteed someone would be mourning
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    in the land when Herod dies.
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    Fortunately, that plan never came to pass,
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    but it's another sign about his controlling tendencies
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    and how he just wasn't able to ever find peace.
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    He was holding on to things out of fear,
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    and this fear sapped his life and in the end
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    he would ultimately lose,
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    just like all of us will ultimately lose
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    if we stand up against the plan of God.
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    God was working a plan
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    to bring the king into this world
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    who was going to ultimately rule our hearts.
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    And trying to stop God's plan will never, ever work.
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    In fact, if you try to stop His plan,
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    it's going to end very painfully for you.
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    ABC News said this about his death.
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    I'm going to quote ABC News,
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    because you're not going to believe it if I just tell you.
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    I'll just quote ABC News in talking about Herod's death
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    that more than 2000 years after Herod The Great
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    succumbed at age 69 doctors have now settled
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    on exactly what killed the king of ancient Judea:
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    chronic kidney disease complicated by
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    a very uncomfortable case of maggot infested
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    gangrene of the genitals.
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    Anybody here have maggot infested
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    gangrene of the genitals?
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    I hope not. Oh my goodness.
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    He dies slowly of a flesh eating disease
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    that affects the totality of his humanity.
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    This what happens when we allow anger
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    and lack of contentment to get its clutches in us.
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    You can't have peace that way. It affects us.
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    It affects us physically, we get ulcers,
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    our hair falls out, it affects us emotionally.
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    We're at odds with everybody around us
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    and anger with people around us.
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    Christmas is about the kingdom of God being built,
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    and nothing can stop that.
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    When God promises something, He is promising
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    to give a deliverer, a savior to us.
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    No human leader, no matter how powerful,
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    can beat the plans of God.
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    We need to participate with our bit in God's plan
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    as good middle managers or we get steamrolled by it.
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    Gosh, I hate to mention this word.
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    We're all so sick of this word, but I'm going to.
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    I personally got steamrolled a bit in COVID.
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    And people would ask me because they know that
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    as a follower of Jesus, we're we know that
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    all things work together for good for those who love Him
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    and are called according to his purpose.
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    So Romans 8:28-30 says, 29-30.
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    And so people would ask me in the midst of COVID
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    when it was really, really bad,
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    "Well, what have you learned about God?
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    How's God forming you?"
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    And I would always be like, "I -- I."
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    I didn't say this at the time.
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    I just, "Oh, I don't. I don't know. I don't know."
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    What I should have said was, "You know what He's teaching me?
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    He's teaching me this sucks. That's what He's teaching me."
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    And then I wish I would have said,
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    "I'm not going to know for a long time
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    how He's forming me or how He's doing something in me."
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    Enough time has passed now that I do know.
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    What God has been teaching me is that
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    I'm not all that important and as a middle manager,
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    I'm just managing His stuff.
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    And that includes the thing that's His,
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    which is Crossroads Church,
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    the thing that he's commissioned me to middle manage.
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    And when things weren't going my way
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    or things weren't happening the way
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    I thought they should
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    and people weren't coming to church
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    and people are mad and people are leaving the church,
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    it just brought all of this anger and anxiety.
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    And I tried to strong arm everything
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    and keep everything right and I just became very angry,
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    an angry elf.
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    I was more angry than ever
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    and flipping out on certain staff members.
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    My family would bear the brunt of my anger.
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    My dog Peanut would get the brunt of my anger.
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    Actually, no, not Peanut, because it's not possible
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    to be angry with Peanut, not at all.
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    Now, enough time has passed when I realize
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    that what God's taught me through it is,
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    "Brian, I'm going to do whatever I want to do
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    and just don't take it personal.
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    You personally are going to be spiritually developed
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    in the midst of this, even if the thing
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    that you're managing isn't going the way that you want."
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    And I've come to a higher level of peace
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    that Jesus is enough for me,
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    no matter what else is happening around me
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    or where else I'm losing around me, or who's mad at me.
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    When you come to that place, you're really good.
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    You can have peace that passes all understanding.
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    I feel that right now.
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    I hope it doesn't wear off for a long, long time.
  • 00:16:18
    His came out of love for a world that didn't want Him.
  • 00:16:23
    He Himself got steamrolled by it.
  • 00:16:25
    He went to a cross and died of brutal death
  • 00:16:28
    that people like you and I deserve
  • 00:16:29
    for our rebelliousness.
  • 00:16:30
    John 3:16, I don't even need my Bible to read it, says:
  • 00:16:33
    For God so loved the world,
  • 00:16:35
    that He gave His only begotten Son,
  • 00:16:38
    that whoever believes in Him should not perish
  • 00:16:42
    but have eternal life.
  • 00:16:46
    Nothing has changed with Jesus or the world.
  • 00:16:49
    This world is still His, He is still king,
  • 00:16:51
    and He right now Himself is in heaven
  • 00:16:54
    still serving the will of His Father.
  • 00:16:56
    The plan of God is still marching forward
  • 00:17:00
    and our goal isn't to just push off
  • 00:17:03
    our physical death as long as possible.
  • 00:17:05
    It's not a bad goal to not die of gangrene
  • 00:17:07
    in your private areas. That's a good goal to have.
  • 00:17:09
    But that's not the ultimate goal.
  • 00:17:11
    The ultimate goal is to die inside the plan of God
  • 00:17:14
    as good middle managers,
  • 00:17:17
    having peace that passes all understanding,
  • 00:17:20
    and having an awareness that my end will come
  • 00:17:23
    just like Herod's did, but I want to finish well
  • 00:17:26
    because no one, no one can beat the plan of God.
  • 00:17:30
    Christmas is about God's promise of real peace.
  • 00:17:33
    Real peace is found in resolving your conflict
  • 00:17:35
    with King Jesus and how you react to the king
  • 00:17:39
    determines whether or not you're going to have peace.
  • 00:17:43
    Herod didn't react well to the presence of Jesus.
  • 00:17:46
    You and I get to make a different choice.
  • 00:17:48
    We can receive Him right now.
  • 00:17:49
    Will you make room for Him in your life right now?
  • 00:17:54
    Would you maybe give your life to Him for the first time
  • 00:17:57
    or recommit your life to Him right now?
  • 00:17:59
    Recommit that you're going to be a good middle manager,
  • 00:18:02
    that you're going to be a peaceful person
  • 00:18:05
    or a peaceful elf.
  • 00:18:06
    And the end isn't going to freak you out.
  • 00:18:09
    And as long as God gives you, you're going to serve Him
  • 00:18:12
    and enjoy His peace as long as you can
  • 00:18:15
    being on His agenda.
  • 00:18:16
    His agenda marches forward.
  • 00:18:18
    You can choose to be like Herod
  • 00:18:20
    and hold tight to your a little bit of power
  • 00:18:23
    or choose the peace that Jesus gives
  • 00:18:25
    by coming into our lives.
  • 00:18:27
    Ask Him right now into your life.
  • 00:18:29
    Tell him, "Jesus, I want to give my life to You.
  • 00:18:31
    I ask for Your forgiveness.
  • 00:18:33
    I want to serve You the rest of my life."
  • 00:18:36
    When you say prayers like that,
  • 00:18:38
    when you make decisions like that,
  • 00:18:40
    there's the peace that comes into our life
  • 00:18:43
    that affects everybody who's around our life.
  • 00:18:47
    Let's end our time together by doing a song,
  • 00:18:50
    it's about being an overcomer.
  • 00:18:52
    You want to overcome all the negativity and the cynicism
  • 00:18:56
    and the selfishness that's embodied in people like Herod.
  • 00:19:00
    We want to overcome and have a peace
  • 00:19:02
    that overcomes our life and surpasses all understanding.
  • 00:21:37
    - Harod's story is a part of the bigger Christmas story
  • 00:21:39
    that can change the way we respond to God
  • 00:21:42
    and see Him this Christmas.
  • 00:21:43
    You know, God's plan won't be stopped by anyone.
  • 00:21:46
    Because of Christmas, we can have peace with God
  • 00:21:48
    and peace with every single person around us.
  • 00:21:52
    You know, we know that the holiday season
  • 00:21:54
    can be difficult, and if that's you,
  • 00:21:55
    we want to be there for you.
  • 00:21:57
    If you need anything from us, encouragement, ideas,
  • 00:22:00
    how to deal with stuff, hope, you can find resources
  • 00:22:03
    that we've gathered just for you
  • 00:22:04
    at Crossroads.net/HolidayCare.
  • 00:22:07
    Next week, join us for Christmas Eve.
  • 00:22:09
    We're going to be exploring
  • 00:22:11
    how these unknown stories of Christmas
  • 00:22:13
    that changed everything back then
  • 00:22:15
    can change everything in your life still today.
  • 00:22:20
    - If God actually came to the world,
  • 00:22:22
    which is what Christmas celebrates,
  • 00:22:24
    everything is changed, our hopes, our dreams,
  • 00:22:28
    our aspirations, the importance of the things
  • 00:22:30
    I get stressed out about right now.
  • 00:22:32
    The birth of Jesus changes everything, it all changes.

Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

Welcome to the Weekend Follow-up.

  1. What’s your favorite scene from the Christmas movie Elf? (and if you haven’t watched it, please go do that immediately…please!) Sigh But if you haven’t, share a scene from your favorite Christmas movie.

  2. Herod craved the acceptance and approval of others to find fulfillment, but was frustrated because the people around him were unable to meet his needs. Where have you been frustrated in your own life, and what is your natural response to that frustration?

  3. Read Psalm 37:8. Anger is a natural response when we feel injustice, but with Jesus we have the power to respond with grace. Where have feelings of anger and discontent sucked peace out of your life, and where do you see the potential for growth?

  4. Read 1 Peter 4:10-11. We’re all just middle managers, stewards of the gifts and blessings God has given us. In what area of your life can you surrender your expectations and develop a servant’s heart this week? Share a specific gift or story with the group, and decide on an action step.

  5. Now close your time in prayer. Here’s an example: “Lord, thank you for sending your son Jesus to save us. Thank you that we can depend on your promises, that nothing and no one can thwart your plans. We ask for the faith to find our ultimate peace in you and the identity that you give us as your children, rather than the identities that others put on us. Please banish the spirits of anger and discontentment from us. We love you and trust in your plans for our lives. Amen.

More from the Weekend

Read John 1:14. At Crossroads we’re about the power of God who transforms lives. Everyday we’re getting outside ourselves trying to make a difference in the world. One way we do this is partnering with organizations who literally are changing the world everyday. If you want to jump in and start giving risk free, you can try the 90 day tithe test here.

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Dec 20, 2021 22 mins 39 sec

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