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Monday, December 8, 2014

UC Berkeley UBF

At 10:30 am on December 7, 2014 we had a Christmas worship service. The worship took place at the bible center located at 1021 Solano Ave, Suite B Albany, San Francisco.
Pastor Mark Moran served a Christmas message entitled, "The Best Christmas GIFT", based on Philippians 2:5-8. The message will be posted here when the manuscript becomes available. Mark has a presidential look. He teaches 9th graders full time yet he found the time to prepare such a heart-moving message. I wish the whole world would hear the message. (See below for the message.)
Kara his second daughter supplemented the message by coming out of the children's compound and jumping up on the daddy. Lovingly he held her up in his arm just like Joseph holding the baby Jesus, and he continued on speaking on the baby Jesus.


THE BEST GIFT 


Philippians 2:5-8 

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ 
Jesus. 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with 
God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself 
nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human 
likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled 
himself by becoming obedient to death. even death on a cross! 

Merry Christmas! Christmas might be the best-loved holiday in the United 
States. So, why do we like Christmas so much? There are two great Christian holidays. 
Christmas and Easter. As Christians, we might expect Easter to be more 
loved, since on Easter we celebrate our Savior’s victory over sin and death on our 
behalf. In the greater American society, however, Christmas is much more popular. 
For example, at Christmas, most students get two weeks of vacation, while at Easter 
they get a week or a day. The Christmas shopping season begins before Thanksgiving 
and continues after New Year’s Day, but people do not shop for “Easter 
presents”. I would like to think that people like Christmas because they want to 
celebrate Jesus’ birth into the world, but in reality, the modern-American Christmas 
is more accurately represented by Santa Claus. As children, we like Christmas because 
of Christmas presents, Christmas cookies and Christmas decorations. As 
adults, we enjoy those same things and add Christmas parties. Intellectually, we 
know that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, but we connect more emotionally 
to the cultural trappings of Christmas rather than its spiritual foundation. As we 
studied Philippians this year, we found that it contains Paul’s most personal testimony 
about his love relationship with Jesus. Therefore, Philippians 2:5-8 is a wonderful 
passage for us to study for our Christmas worship service, as we pray to restore 
our deep, personal love relationship with our Savior. 

I. Jesus gave himself for us 
We try to teach our children how to receive a gift by teaching them the phrase, 
“It’s the thought that counts.” It means that they should not value a gift on the basis 
of how much they like it, but rather on the basis of the love it represents from the 
giver. As a father, I would prefer that my daughter spent two hours making a birthday 
card as the expression of her love for me than to spend $20 on a professional 
card. This aspect is also reflected in “the best gift” we can receive. Jesus’ sacrificial 
love for us can be represented in the phrase, “Jesus gave himself for us.” 

Read Philippians 2:5-8. “In your relationships with one another, have the same 
mindset as Christ Jesus. 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality 

December 7, 2014 



with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself 
nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Paul 
is taking about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, but he barely mentions Jesus’ suffering and 
death on the cross. Paul knew that Jesus’ physical suffering and death were very 
important; they were essential for the gospel he preached.Yet, when thinking of Jesus’ 
sacrificial love, Paul saw Jesus’ suffering and death as a smaller sacrifice compared 
to the greater sacrifice of his incarnation. The Son of God put aside his divinity. 
his equality with God. and became flesh making his dwelling among us. 
How wonderful that our Creator God came to visit us on earth! Yet, he did not 
come in his heavenly glory to receive the honor, praise and tribute that he deserves. 
No! He put aside his glory and power. not using it to his own advantage. but 
made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human 
likeness. 

The word ‘servant’ (or ‘slave’) implies Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. Our Creator, 
our Lord and our King put aside his superior nature and took on the nature of a servant. 
In the early days of Berkeley ministry, one young woman came to meet Jesus 
through Bible study. She really wanted to support our humble Sunday worship service, 
so she asked, “What can I do to help? I will do anything!” I was very foolish 
and ignorant, so I asked her, “Could you clean the bathroom before worship service?” 
To my surprise, she was (rightly) grievously offended. When Jesus came to us, 
however, he put aside his heavenly glory and honor and power and took on the 
very nature of a servant. Can you imagine if President Barack Obama came to visit 
our worship service? What an honor! Do you think he would clean the bathroom 
before worship service? 

As humble as it is that our Lord took on the very nature of a servant, it was even 
more humiliating for him to be “made in human likeness”. Little children love baby 
Jesus, because they love babies, but it is an unfathomable sacrifice that our Creator 
came to visit us. not just as a man, limited in time and space; not just as a man 
who gets hungry and must eat or he will die, who gets tired and has to rest; not just 
as a man who has to go to the bathroom. No, our Creator and Lord came to us as a 
weak and helpless baby, who had to depend on a man to protect him and a woman 
to feed him. a helpless baby who soiled his diaper and had to be changed. Think 
about what he sacrificed for us! Why? So that he could be with us. 

When I was young, I didn’t know how to make friends. My best friend was the 
person who came up and invited me to play with him. When my best friend 
moved away I became friends with the boy who moved into his house. He was 
kind of weird, but he was my best friend for many years. In high school, however, I 
decided to stop eating lunch with him, because I wanted to eat at the “Popular Table”. 
He became jealous, but instead of apologizing to him, I was cruel to him. I 



was angry and I was afraid that my new so-called “friends” would think that I was 
weird, so I separated myself from him. However, our holy, Creator God humbled 
himself, gave up his honor, glory, prestige and power and made himself nothing. 
helpless, humble and shameful. being made in human likeness. What a sacrifice 
he made for us! 

Read verse 8. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself 
by becoming obedient to death. even death on a cross!” We might think that the 
word ‘death’ represents the greatest extend of Jesus’ sacrifice, but there is another 
word that represents an even greater sacrifice: the word ‘cross’. Jesus’ death for us 
is a great sacrifice, but he made an even greater sacrifice by dying on a cross. Jesus’ 
cross represents the humiliation, shame and guilt of our sins and the curse of God 
that he endured in our places. 

I’m willing to suffer physical pain for a friend or for someone I love. I am willing 
to die for my wife or my daughters, but I am not willing to accept blame for something 
I did not do. I pray for my mother to know Jesus as I have come to know him, 
but I argue with her a lot on the telephone, because I feel that she accuses me of 
things that are unfair or unjust. In my mind, I know that I should follow in Jesus’ 
footsteps and accept her small criticisms in order to help her spiritually, but it 
seems impossible for me to do. In contrast, our Lord Jesus Christ. who is perfect in 
holiness and righteousness. who never committed even one sin with his mind or 
body. took on all the shame and guilt of our sins upon himself so that we could 
be declared righteous, innocent and holy in his name! What sacrifices he has made 
for us! 

The title for today’s message is “The Best Gift”. The best gift includes Jesus’ sacrificial 
love for us, but that is not all. It is wonderful that Jesus sacrificed so much for 
us, but the purpose of that sacrifice is even more wonderful. I am willing to sacrifice 
anything for my daughters. Once, my wife dreamed that there were spiders in 
our bedroom, so in the middle of the night I had to turn on all the lights and search 
the bedroom for spiders before she would go back to sleep. I was a little upset with 
her. On the other hand, when my daughters were younger, I was willing to get up 
in the middle of the night to do something for them. We make many sacrifices for 
our children, but what is the purpose of our sacrifices? We sacrifice to protect them, 
to teach them what they need to know and to train them to be good, honest and 
hard-working. Most of all, we sacrifice for them so that they may know how much 
we love them. What is the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice for us? 

(2) Jesus Gave Himself to Us 


Jesus loves us with a sacrificial love: He gave himself for us. He also gives himself 
to us. Jesus suffered and died on the cross in order to cleanse us from our sins 
and to give us the gift of eternal life. What is it so great about eternal life? 

You may be familiar with Psalm 84:10 from a popular song: “Better is one day 
in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the 
house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” In his letter to the Philippians, 
Paul said the same thing: “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better 
by far” (Php 1:23b). At one point in our ministry, we had a young shepherdess and 
a young shepherd who were always fighting with each other and with me. At the 
same time, I was struggling to pass my qualifying exams. We were studying Philippians 
through Daily Bread, and when I read this verse I thought, “O yes! I desire to 
depart!” My desire was just to run away from my problems in this life, but Paul’s 
desire is very different. His desire was not to run away from his problems in this 
life, but to go to be with Christ, “which is better by far”. Paul might have paraphrased 
Psalm 84:10 by saying, “Better to be in prison with Jesus than in a palace 
with anyone else!” When Paul was in Philippi, he was unjustly arrested for doing 
the work of God. He and Silas were stripped and beaten with rods. Then they were 
severely flogged and thrown into prison. The jailer put them in the inner cell. with 
no windows or light. and fastened their feet in the stocks (Ac 16:16-24). At first, 
Paul and Silas must have been confused, frustrated and afraid, but as they prayed, 
they found that Jesus was still with them. They experienced Jesus’ presence with 
them. He comforted them and encouraged them. He assured them that he was 
working out his good purpose through these terrible events. So they began to sing 
hymns of praise to God. Paul knew from experience that it was better to be in 
prison with Jesus, than to be in a palace with anyone else! How much better it will 
be to be with Jesus in his kingdom! 

My favorite Christmas verse is John 1:14a: “The Word became flesh and made 
his dwelling among us.” Wow! How wonderful! Not only that Jesus left his heavenly 
glory and power and honor and came to earth, and not just that he was made in 
human likeness, not just that he died for me, but that he came to be with me. he 
made his dwelling among us. When I was young, I was always lonely. I really understood 
what it means to be “alone in a crowd”. I always felt separated and disconnected 
from the people around me. until I met Jesus. He forgave me from my 
sins and took away my shame and guilt. He took away my fear of death. Best of all, 
he satisfied my thirsty heart: I was not lonely anymore! After I graduated from college 
I planned to go to UC-Berkeley for graduate school. At first, I only thought 
about which school I should attend. After I decided, however, I realized that I 
would be going far away from everyone I knew. I decided to live in my own apartment 
without a roommate, so that I could have Sunday worship service. At one 
point, my Daily Bread books failed to arrive on time and I thought, “Maybe I’ve 



been expelled from UBF for some reason.” I was truly all alone, but I did not feel 
lonely anymore because Jesus was with me! 

To say that Jesus gave himself to us means that he came to be with us, but it also 
means he came to be within us. Look at verse 5 again. “In your relationships with 
one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” At first, I only included this 
verse in the message, because I needed the words “Christ Jesus”. However, as the 
message progressed, I realized that this verse also captures the wonderfulness of 
Jesus’ gift in giving himself to us. This verse is extremely challenging: Can we really 
be expected to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus? Is it really possible for sinners 
like us to have the same sacrificial love for others that Jesus has toward us. not 
just to suffer for someone else, but to die for them, to bear their shame and humiliation 
and guilt, to give up our power, position and glory for them, to become weak 
and helpless for them? Humanly, it’s impossible! But in Christ all things are possible! 


In Galatians 2:20, Paul expressed how it is possible for him. and for any believer. 
to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus: “I have been crucified with Christ 
and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by 
faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Also, in his letter 
to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his 
grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them.yet not I, 
but the grace of God that was with me” (1Co 15:10). Paul was not a self-made man; 
he was a grace-made man. Here, when Paul says, “the grace of God that was with 
me”, he means the living Jesus, dwelling in him through the Holy Spirit. We cannot 
separate Jesus’ sacrificial love. that he gave himself for us. from the result of that 
love. that he gave himself to us. Jesus gave himself as the best gift so that he might 
be with us to fill us with his love and to transform us into his holy image. He gave 
himself to us so that we may love others with his love. 

We think that the longer we know Jesus the more we can grow in his image, but 
the reality is that our “old self” never changes. This week, I yelled at my daughter 
many times and I even yelled at my wife. That was my “old self”, reminding me that 
it never changes. We can be completely transformed, however, as we allow Jesus, 
who is already living in us, to fill our hearts, to fill our minds, to fill our souls with 
his love, with his thoughts, with his grace. Let’s read our passage one more time together. 
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. 
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something 
to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking 
the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in 
appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death. even 
death on a cross!” 

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