Christmas Service times

Thursday, December 23rd @ 6pm
Friday, December 24th @ 4pm • 6pm
Friday, December 24th @ 4:30pm • 6pm • 7:30pm
Friday, December 24th @ 4pm • 5:30pm • 7pm
Sunday, December 19th @ 4pm • 6pm
at the Elko Convention Center • 724 Moren Way
Friday, December 24th @ 4pm • 5:30pm
Friday, December 24th @ 5pm
Friday, December 24th @ 6:30pm
Advent Sermon Series

Christmas Presence

exploring the relational nearness of God

I will be their God, they will be my people, and I will dwell in their midst.

That's the promise of the entire Bible, the answer to all of our problems and pain, and the ultimate and best goal. Every truly good experience and every moment of joy is just a dim hint of what it will be like to finally be with God without sin, without pain, and without end.

Advent, the time of year when Christians worldwide celebrate the arrival of Jesus and anticipate His return, is all about God giving the gift of His presence. There is no greater gift that God could give, because there is nothing more fulfilling, satisfying, joyful, or pleasurable than God.

The best Christmas present is God's presence.
Click the images below to read more about God's presence.

Pursuing Presence

Passage - Genesis 3:8-9

The beginning of God’s story shows us how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created a world furnished with satisfaction, pleasure, and justice over the course of six days. Then comes the seventh day: God and humanity enjoying His world together with nothing inhibiting fellowship with God. Through these events God communicates that the core need for every human being is relationship with Him and one another. Despite God’s goodness and blessing, the first humans rebel against Him and go into hiding, only to have God immediately seek them in grace. In the midst of their sin, God still wants a relationship with them, so He announces a covenant of grace, and makes a promise of restoration: Someone, born of a woman, will come to redeem humanity.
"Rather than entering the dark places of our souls with a flashlight and a scalpel, intent on repairing what’s wrong, God enters with a flashlight and a smile, eager to let us see how He feels about us even when we stand exposed in His presence [...] He looks at us with eyes of delight. And sometimes He exposes what we are convinced would make Him turn away in disgust in order to amaze us with His grace."

Hidden Presence

Passage - Exodus 2:23-25

The story of Scripture progresses from Eden to the patriarchs to the Israelites who find themselves in Egypt after Joseph, the favored son of Israel, dies. A new king, who stands as a representative enemy of God, comes into power and orders heinous violence against God’s people and enslaves them. The covenant promise to Abraham and the patriarchs seems to be in jeopardy, but God shows that He has been with His people all along, and He acts to deliver them.
God sovereignly - and often in hidden ways - is at work to ensure His covenant promises stand. He hears our cries, He knows our pain, and eventually sends Jesus - the true Prophet, Deliverer, and Son of God (see Ex. 4:22) - to bear ultimate suffering on our behalf in order to guarantee His spiritual presence with us now and His physical presence at the Second Advent.
"Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you."

Guiding Presence

Passage - Exodus 40:34-38

God was with His people in their suffering in Egypt, and now He wants to dwell among them in a visible form for their instruction, guidance, and protection. He resolves the problem of His holiness and their sinfulness by delivering detailed instructions for a mobile tent called the tabernacle and then instituting the sacrificial system whereby priests minister to God on behalf of the Israelites. The Lord loves to guide His people and protect them. Look at God’s own reason for having the tabernacle built:
“Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Ex. 25:8).
We who live after Jesus have the guidance and protection of God in the form of the indwelling Spirit, the canon of Scripture, and the community of the redeemed called the Church. As we travel through the harsh wilderness of a world plagued by suffering and death, we need God’s guidance and protection just as much as Israel did while traveling.
"How do we live this life with God? We need to remember that God is a homemaker, not a hotel manager. We don't check in with Him at random times during our travels. We make our home with Him, and by His grace, He always invites us in."

Free Presence

Passage - Isaiah 55:1, 6-9

Isaiah 49-55 is focused on the future hope and restoration of Israel and the nations (God’s saving grace). This saving grace arrives through the forthcoming Servant of the LORD. Throughout these chapters of Isaiah are songs referred to as “Servant Songs”, which are poetic prophecies describing the Servant and what He will accomplish. The heart of this Servant Song is the prophecy that the Servant “will suffer and die as a substitute for those who have sinned.”

Since this Servant dies for His people’s sins, the invitation of Isaiah 55:1 is given. Jesus Himself mirrors this invitation in John 7 when He exclaims, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” God calls us to enter His presence to enjoy Him, His gifts, and His compassion and abundant pardon.
"Come, everyone who thirsts and has no money — no resources, no bargaining position, no track record, no power, no prestige, no pull. God is inviting you to enjoy the banquet of salvation."

Returning Presence

Passage - 1 Corinthians 15:17-26

Paul wrote to the spiritually-confused and conflicted Corinthians to settle various disputes, questions, and concerns they had. In the midst of this ordinary, conflict-ridden church, Paul sees a desperate need for a massive reminder: Jesus is going to physically return and defeat all of His enemies, including death itself. After this occurs, God will be “all in all”, meaning God will be present and lovingly exercising authority over all reality unquestioned, unchallenged, and without end. Nothing, not even death, will separate us from God’s presence. Nothing will upend His presence with us. 
"Those who place their hope fully on grace forgo the vain pleasures of this world and look to Christ. They treasure a future inheritance rather than seeking one in the present."

Indwelling Presence

Passage - Ephesians 2:18-22

The Holy Spirit is the gift of God’s presence to the community of God’s people. Through the Spirit, we’re given new life and the actual power to live a life that reflects the character and love of God. We’re comforted and strengthened in times of weakness, we’re empowered toward holiness in the face of temptations, and we’re given hope that fuels obedience to Jesus in experiences of suffering. As we collectively minister the gospel to one another and look forward to the return of Jesus, we can rest in the presence of God within us.
"Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God's new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.."

Revealing Presence

Passage - John 1:18

God told Moses, “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Ex. 33:20).

This begs the question: how can human beings, who cannot even see God, truly know God and be in His presence? Jesus is the answer. God’s reply to our sinfulness and misery wasn’t to invite us back into Eden, but to pursue us and bring us into His presence - both in the here and now, and in the new creation to come. In this baby, sinners can finally see the face of God and live.

The basic message of God to humanity is found in the God-man, Jesus. Even though He was under no obligation to reveal Himself to us, God has pursued us to make Himself known through the presence of Jesus!

This isn’t some abstract, conceptual, philosophical knowing. Instead, Jesus is God showing up as a human being to be intimately involved and personally known. We don’t have to wonder what God is like, we don’t have to guess about His character, because Jesus is “the word of life” - He is the life “made manifest” in history. In fact, the entire reason John wrote his Gospel is summed up in Chapter 20:

“So that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” 

Other religions might offer us prosperity, a sense of security, internal peace, vague happiness, a measure of power, but they can’t offer God, they can’t truly give the presence of God because other religions don’t offer us the true Jesus.
"The Word who was face-to-face with God in the glory of eternity came to be face-to-face with us in this world, marked by temporality, changeability, and the shame of sin. Infinite and finite, eternal and temporal, Word made flesh."