No Room at the Inn

Being a good Christian means we should always put God first.

Linn Winters
Dec 10, 2017    32m
No matter how busy life gets be sure to put God first. Linn's sermon "No Room at the Inn" is about making sure we always put Jesus first in our lives. When you are busy and in the midst of success it's easy to miss Jesus. During busy times God tends to get crowded out. He gets put second. When we are successful, we lean towards relying on ourselves first rather than God first. No matter the season being a good christian means to put Jesus above all else. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

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

Linn Winters: 01:18 Hey Cornerstone, how are you doing? OK.

Linn Winters: 01:23 So it's Christmas time, we're doing the whole Christmas thing. I just want to say to our San Tan campus, our Scottsdale campus, man, just super glad you guys are part of the conversation we're going to have today in this room. Ever missed a big thing? You just have a moment that you went, "How did I not see that?" I mean, there was an opportunity there. And I- it just didn't make sense in the moment, I went pass on it, and all of a sudden it was like, "How did I not see that?" Ever had a moment that you went, you know, there's a couple of decisions I can make and you made a decision, and it's not like you made a horrible decision. It's just the decision you made ended up being way, way less than if you had made the other decision. And you think oh, man.

Linn Winters: 02:11 I wish in the moment I would have seen it a little more clearly, understood the moment a little more with definition. I just wish I could have landed that, but now it's a miss. It's one of the things I look back and go, "Boy if I could replay that."

Linn Winters: 02:27 In Bible College, I'm playing baseball. And before you get too carried away, it was Bible College Baseball, OK. So, nobody is on scholarship, we're all walk on, and we get to the end of the year. We've had an okay season, but we're in the final end of the year tournament and we've played well enough in the tournament that we're one game away from the championship game. And it's the ninth inning, two outs, and we're ahead by one run and we're playing our arch nemesis; the school we, in Christian love, hate. OK, so, we're playing and we're ahead by one.

Linn Winters: 03:07 And so this guy gets up to bat, hits the ball, really doesn't make great contact, and the ball is coming straight toward me. I'm playing shortstop, and so with absolute skill and agility, I go running toward the ball and I reach down. Now here's, here's, here's the caveat you've got to know. They hadn't mowed the infield in a while. That's my excuse. Just want to put it out there before we get to the rest of the story, that's my excuse, they hadn't mowed the infield for a while. So I reached out, and when I reached down to get the ball, I not only get the ball, I get a mitt full of grass. And so as I come up, I end up with grass and no ball. And so then I'm going back and I pick up the ball, and I throw it to first, and the guy barely beats my throw out. My team is so disheartened. I mean we had the out right there, then everyone's shoulders slump. They ended up scoring two more runs on us after that, and we got disqualified.

Linn Winters: 04:04 And to think, to think, to think I was just a couple of blades of grass away from playing for the Diamondbacks. And you do. We've all got those moments. If I could go back and replay, I wish I had known what was at stake at the time. If I had I would have played the cards a little differently. We've all got moments like that. That's why today's story, the passage of scripture we're going to look at, is so vital to us. Because it's a passage of scripture that unpacks the story of a couple people at Christmas time, that I think if they had said, "Look, if I had known, if I had understood what was at stake, if I had seen that coming, I'm just telling you I would have played that moment in my life completely, completely different." So grab your bibles.

Linn Winters: 04:48 Go with me to the Christmas story, of Luke Chapter 2. If you're not familiar, if you simply go to the back of your Bible, work left, you're going to find this book of Luke in Chapter 2. This is the Christmas story that tons, and tons, and tons of us are probably going to read in the next few days with our families. But there's a story in here of some people who left the ball on the ground.

Linn Winters: 05:13 So Luke Chapter 2, starting in verse 1. And just as we read it through this time, see if you see the miss. Here we go. Luke Chapter 2 Verse 1, it says, "In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria and everyone went to their own town to register." So here's the moment the Romans say, "Look, we're going to take a census, find out how many subjects we have, and we're going to do some taxing at the time." So the easiest way to do this is for everybody to go back to their place of birth. We can register everybody, get everybody noted, and then we can collect some taxes. So it's going on. "So Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the House and the line of David."

Linn Winters: 06:07 "He went there to register with Mary who was pledged," engaged to him, "to be married to him, and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. And she wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger." Now here's where we've got to get, you and I have this very Western idea of what a manger is. A manger is not a building. A manger is a trough for feed- for feeding animals. And so when it says, "They placed him in a manger," it just simply means they put her in a feed trough. And the reason they put him in a feed trough is because they've been relegated to the stable.

Linn Winters: 06:47 And at this time, stables most likely are caves. The whole area there, around Jerusalem, is just littered with small caves, and shepherds would take their animals in at night. You'd put them in a cave so that the animal, wild animals couldn't get to them. And then you'd put a couple of thorn bushes in the front, or a shepherd would stay there and watch. But most likely this is a cave. And the animals are in there, and, are you ready for this? Everything that animals do is in there, as the son of God is born.

Linn Winters: 07:26 And then it explains, she wrapped him in cloths, placed him in a manger because there was no room, guest room, available for them. A lot of the translations we read said, "There's no room in the inn." And again, here's what you need to know, this, we're not talking about a Marriott. That's, that's not what's, matter of fact, the idea and the concept of hotels is thousands of years away at this point. It's more of a bed and breakfast. So, what you've got is, you've got somebody whose personal home has a few extra rooms, and it's probably been noted in the area, "Hey if you're traveling through, if you don't have any place to stay, you can go stay at Tim and Alice's bed and breakfast." That's where you can stay. But now, because of what the Romans are doing, there's a windfall going on. There are literally hundreds of hundreds, if not thousands of guests coming into Bethlehem, and there's no place for them to stay.

Linn Winters: 08:09 And now this little bed and breakfast is exploding. And by the time that Joseph and Mary get there, there's there's no room left, and so they get relegated to the stable. Now, I remember when I was a kid, I would read this story, it would be read to me and I'd go, "Those innkeeper's are bad people. How do you, how would you do that? Why? Why would you send the Son of God to go be born in a stable?" That's just such a horrible decision. You get that the innkeepers send Mary and Joseph to the stable not because they're evil.

Linn Winters: 08:50 They're not even, they're not trying to reject Jesus, that's not what's going on. The reason they send Jesus to the stable is because they're busy and they are successful. See this is, this is this windfall moment in their lives and they're sitting there, and they've got, their son Tommy's in the backyard, and he's sawing up wood and trying to make a couple extra cots, because this is a chance to sell a lot of beds and make crazy money. And this is probably never going to happen again. They're getting together, you know, some fodder and hay and they're putting it on the ground and saying, "Hey if you put your blanket on it, it's only half price, if you lay on the ground." And they are literally taking every nook, every cranny. Because I'm just telling you, this, this is a unbelievable moment of success that probably is not here in a couple of weeks. And we're going to leverage this, this could change our lives.

Linn Winters: 09:41 They are not evil people, they are simply busy people who are in this moment really, really being successful and they end up missing one of the most important moments of their entire lives. Here's why that's a big deal for you and me.

Linn Winters: 09:54 Because you and I are busy, and chances are you and I are pretty successful. And if you and I don't learn the lesson of the innkeepers, we could make the same mistake.

Linn Winters: 10:12 How many of you in the room would go, I, I, I'm pretty busy. I've got to admit it, I'm, I'm pretty busy. OK, everybody at Scottsdale and everybody at San Tan just raised their hands. In Chandler you're all liars. I'm just telling you, you're all liars cause you're going, "He's going to tell us it's evil to be busy. So I'm not raising my hand." Come on, it's Christmas. Are you kidding me? We're busy. We got, we got more going on than there is time in the day to get done. It's busy. And the reality is, here's what we all know. Although, when Christmas gets over, it may tame down a little bit. We still won't have enough time in the day to get done everything that we should and could not get done. If I were to ask the question, "How many in the room are successful," chances are, even fewer of us would raise our hands because we all go, "Well, that's kind of arrogant to raise my hand. I don't know."

Linn Winters: 10:59 My guess is this: unless you're retired in the room, my guess is you make more money now than you did when you started working. I remember, I'm a young youth pastor, I'm in Arlington Texas. I pull up to the bank to make a deposit of my every two week check, and I don't remember why, but for some reason there was a little extra that week. I don't know what that was. And so I was depositing, ready for this, I was depositing a thousand dollars. And I remember sitting there saying, "Man, if I could do that every two weeks, if I could earn twenty four thousand dollars a year, I'd be living good. I'd be high on the hog I wouldn't have a care in the world if I was making 24,000 dollars." And I'm just telling you, I'm making more than 24,000 now. I'm making about 27. So.

Linn Winters: 11:58 Right. But chances are, chances are, you're doing better. There's a bunch of us in the room, and our success, your success, is intellect. You've done the studying, you've gotten the degrees, you've gone to school, and most rooms you walk into, you're the smartest person in the room. And that's where your success, it may not be monetary, but you just, your intellect is just there. And, man, your problem solving skills, through the roof. That's your success. For some of us in the room, your success is a capacity or an ability. You're just an amazing sales force. You could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. You've got some sort of singing ability, or you're an unbelievable mathematician, or you've got some sports skill and you just, you just got a capacity that has brought a level of success into your life.

Linn Winters: 12:45 Here's what you got to get in the moment. People who are busy and people who are in the midst of success often miss Jesus. They do exactly what the innkeepers did. So here's my question, here's my question. Is there a chance, is there a chance that there's just a little bit of the innkeepers in all of us? Let's just unpack for a second or two. How does, how does being busy and how does having success cause us to miss something as important as Christ's place, God's place, in our lives? The busy one is pretty easy. I doubt that too many of us are going to be too surprised, or to get too worked up on it, because the reality is, every one of us has like a million little things that have to happen. You've got to get the kids breakfast, you've got to get them dressed. You've got the carpool, the drive.

Linn Winters: 13:49 You got all your friends on Facebook. You got to check in and make sure they're not being too weird. You know, just all that stuff.

Linn Winters: 13:57 And the reality is, there's a zillion little things that you just clamor for. And look some of them are silly, but some of them are needful things and they're just always there, and they're just always something that you and I have got to get to. And then, if that's not enough, then come the important stuff. The big stuff in our lives.

Linn Winters: 14:20 The kids have got homework. They're in sports leagues and playing, and someone gets to drive them there. And then, we saved enough air miles, we're going to Jamaica this year, and that's going good. And then, I'm, we're trying to fit work in on top of all that. And then, there's family time, family time. Why can't families just take care of themselves? And so you've got family time, you've got mom and dad and all of that, and, weird little brother. I don't know. He probably needs family time. And then, and then, you get to that moment, you go, OK and now I'm going to try and fit God in to that and you're just going wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

Linn Winters: 15:08 I'm just telling you, "I'm busy." And there was just, there's more to do than I can possibly get done. And so no I get it, I get, I get that busyness can kind of crowd God out. I'm not even going to argue that. It's just how it is. Success. Success can crowd God out of our lives. And you go, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, Linn, I mean aren't we supposed to want to be successful?" Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Linn Winters: 15:41 I'm not knocking success, I'm just telling you that like many good things, there is a downside to it. And the downside of success is that you and I could actually miss the really, really important things in our success. Matter of fact, Jesus talks about this very topic. It's Luke Chapter 18, just a little further in your Bibles. If you close your bibles and just do the same thing over again. Go to the back and work to the left.

Linn Winters: 16:12 It's Luke Chapter 18. Let me give you the moment. A young man has come up to Jesus and he says, hey, you know I want to be one of your followers. The problem is he's very successful, he's very wealthy, he's got, you know. He's been super successful in his life and Jesus says to him, OK so here's the deal, if you decide to follow me, you may have to walk away from some of your success. Some of this may not fit in following me. And in that moment he is absolutely distraught and decides, I thought following Jesus was going to make me more successful, not less successful. And he walks away. And then Jesus has this conversation.

Linn Winters: 16:57 Luke Chapter 18, starting in verse 23. Here's what it says, "When he," the successful young man, "heard this, he became very sad because he was very wealthy. And Jesus looked at him and said, 'how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.'" Now look, look, look, look. Jesus is not saying having money, having money is bad. He's simply saying, you understand that with success comes a downside. And there is a high level of potential that when you have money, you could be distracted from God.

Linn Winters: 17:42 So the whole camel, and the needle, and all that stuff. It's not as impossible as it sounds when you and I first hear it, because you and I start thinking about literal needles. That's not what Jesus is illustrating. If you go to Jerusalem, on the southern wall of the city of Jerusalem, there's a small gate built only big enough for several people to walk through, through pedestrians to go through. They built it this way because tactically, they didn't want to have a large gate on the southern exposure of the city, in case they were attacked, and they didn't want to leave a gap for opposing armies to come through. So they built a small gate there, just big enough for several people to walk through.

Linn Winters: 18:24 It was called, you ready, the eye of the needle. And so, if you came with a caravan, coming with your camels to come to the city, you had to circle around to the other side of the city where the big gate was. But, on occasion, someone would say, you know I just got a camel or two, I don't want to travel all the way around there. And they got their camel, and tried to get their camel, with the pack on their back, to go through that pedestrian gate, which required the camel to get down on kind of its elbows, and then just push its way through the gate. Not impossible, just hard. And Jesus said, someone who is successful, someone who's got it all together, can have a really hard time figuring me out. Why? If you have money and your car breaks down, someone who has resource and capacity financially, they just go, "Crud." I was saving that for something else. I had other plans for that, and now I got to spend it on a transmission. Crud.

Linn Winters: 19:40 But, they lean into their own financial capacity. Poor man, his transmission goes out. You know how old, poor man responds to his transmission going out? "Dear God! I need help! I'm in trouble. I don't know how to do this!" A rich man leans into his own capacities to solve the problem. He doesn't need the cross, because he can fix it financially.

Linn Winters: 20:13 Same thing happens with a person with high intellect, it's not, no problem with being high intellect. You just need to know the downside is, you're going to think you can solve every problem you have. Matter of fact, you're going to want to solve every problem you have. You're going to want to go, "Hey look. No, no, no, no, no, no. Whatever that is, and you know, I'm going to figure it out. I'm not going to cry Uncle, I'm not going to give up, I'm not going to admit that I don't know this answer. Matter of fact, even if I can't get it, I'm going to refuse to ask for help because that would be humiliating and an admission of my lack of capacity. So I'm going to lean into my intellect until I figure out how to solve my own problem."

Linn Winters: 20:57 People who have skills, people who are ultimately talented, will consistently lean to their skills, to their talent, to fix the problems of their life, instead of leaning into God. I do this. I'm pretty good at leadership. I go all over the world doing pastor's conferences on leadership and I find myself in moments when a decision comes and I go, "Oh that's simple. This, this, there's this. That's what you do." That's an easy leadership equation, and I find myself leaning into my own capacities and often not even consulting God.

Linn Winters: 21:43 It's what Jesus meant when he said, when you're rich, when you're successful, albeit finances or intellect or skill. There is going to be a tendency for you to lean into yourself and lean away from me. So here's the question, are you and I living a little bit like the innkeepers? Are we so busy? Are we so caught up in our success that we're missing what Jesus is doing around us?

Linn Winters: 22:27 You get this was a horrible trade for the innkeepers, right? You get that this, this is, this is a big miss. I mean think about this for a minute. What if, what if, what if, what if, what if they simply, in their busyness, in the midst of their success, had looked at Mary and said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, we've got a pregnant woman on our hands. I mean we can't, we can't send her out to the stable with the animals right?" So if they had gone to somebody that was you know in there and said, "Look here's the deal. I know you've already paid for your bed and all that, here's what we're going to do. We're going to refund you everything you paid. I'm going to ask you to go out to the stable, it's free. It's free of charge. It won't cost you a penny. I've got a pregnant woman. She could give birth any second. Can we make that trade? Can we do that?"

Linn Winters: 23:14 But you realize they miss that money because that would have taken time, right? And that would have, that would have been a loss of income to do that. And so instead they relegate Mary and Joseph to the stable. Think about what would have happened if they hadn't. I mean, you realize the shepherds would have run in right after the birth of Jesus, and they would have been saying, "Man there was like these angels all over the sky and they were telling us that this little kid is Emmanuel, He's messiah come to the earth."

Linn Winters: 23:40 They would have been awestruck going, are you kidding me? Our, our hotel- our little inn! The king of the universe just got born here. What if in the midst of that, Mary and Joseph had been grateful and said, "Hey we just, so we almost ended in the stable, you brought us into your house." And every time from then on that they had traveled to Jerusalem they had stopped at that inn and said, "Hey you just need to see Jesus, he's growing up. It's so cool."

Linn Winters: 24:16 And they miss it. In their busyness and, in their, they hold him eternally. And guys, they didn't reject him. They just didn't include him. He found second best in their lives. How do we change that? How do you and I decide to make this different? And the answer is simply this, you and I have got to solve our busyness issue, and we've got to correct the lean. Kind of solve the busyness, and we've got to lean in the right direction. So solving the busyness looks something like this, that you and I are going to have to actually say- (poor kid, he's had a hard life)

Linn Winters: 24:58 You are going to, you are going to have to say, "Hey look I'm going to, I'm going to prioritize in my life the things that are important. I'm going to make decisions regarding my time." Which simply means this, I'm going to take the things which are most critical to me and to my family and I'm going to make first things first. And we'll go look, look, look, look, look, because I'm a pastor. Anybody want to guess what I'm going to suggest is the first thing first?

Linn Winters: 25:29 You and I would just say hey, whatever that is, whatever that is for me to be sure that I'm serving the way I ought to serve. I'm getting to church as often as I ought to get to church, my kids are getting to church, that this ought to be number one. It ought to be the thing that you say, hey that, that happens even if nothing else happens in my life. That's number one. And then I'm guessing that your family ought to be a close second for that, including your strange son. He probably needs to be a priority in your life, on the deal. And then, you know, I get it. You know we're going to figure out homework, and studying, and your kid's not getting a scholarship to Stanford but it's nice to wish. It's nice to think about. And then, you know, work's got to fit somewhere, down in there. And there's still sports leagues and all the things your kids are doing.

Linn Winters: 26:20 Vacation's OK. Right? Right? And then, then when all the big stuff's in and ready, in the right order, now you fill in with the little stuff. Now you say hey, OK. So. Now I do the rest of the stuff. And let's just be honest. Chances are there's going to, there's going to be something left over. Chances are it doesn't all fit. But wouldn't you rather it be the little stuff that doesn't fit? Look, look, look. Who cares if you don't do laundry for three days. Who cares if your kids are wearing the same underwear. Well, maybe that's not the right place to- but you get it right? There's somewhere.

Linn Winters: 27:35 And if I'm going to, if I'm not going to fit it all in then this is what I don't want to fit in. How do you fix the lean? This is a decision. This is, this is a wealthy well-to-do person. They just simply said, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah. Before I pay that bill, before I buy that thing, before I upgrade my house. Before, before, before. I'm going to pray. I'm just going to say, "Hey God, I could do that, I could do this. It makes sense on paper. I could do this, but do you want me to do this? I'm going to pray. I'm going lean, you ready, the other direction.

Linn Winters: 28:17 Even those are part of my human capacities. I don't have to lean, I want to lean. I choose to lean into my savior, because I don't want to miss anything. It's the person who's got intellect who says look, look, look, look, I'm pretty sure I can figure this out on my own. I think I can do that. But the reality is, God, you see things I don't see from here. You know answers I don't know from here, and so I'm going to pray before I start trying to unscramble the crossword. It's the person with skill and capacity who says, look I get that my skill and capacity came from you in the first place. So, I'm just, I'm going to lean into the one who gave it to me. I'm just going to say God, look, look, look.

Linn Winters: 29:07 The fact that I can jump higher than other people, the fact that I can play a flute better than anyone, doesn't change my lean. It's me. Saying God before I lead into that, before I make that decision even if it looks obvious. I decide I'm going to pray. It's when you and I fix the time. Because busy people miss Jesus. And it's when we fix the lean. Because successful people often miss Jesus. Here's what's interesting. The people at the end, because they were busy and successful, thought Jesus was simply another patron. If you and I aren't careful, in our busyness, in our success, we'll think that God is simply another task. He's not. He's Lord. And he doesn't belong in the barn. Let's pray.

Linn Winters: 30:23 Here's what I'm asking: chances are, in a conversation like this, that nearly every person in the room saw themselves somewhere. You're the busy person who says, I have. I've been doing all the things that just feel so urgent in my life and if I'm really, really honest, although I have included God, He's been in the barn. He's been the second on the list. Some of us in this room who have capacity, whether that capacity is financial, or intellectual, or just some amazing ability, and if we were honest we would say my most intuitive way to lean is to lean into myself, to lean into my own strength. And I've got a feeling I've missed the wonder of God. Because my lean's been in the wrong direction. And I'm deciding today to adjust my lean.

Linn Winters: 31:28 I refuse, I refuse, I refuse to be an innkeeper.

Linn Winters: 31:32 Dearest Heavenly Father, we simply come to you in this moment, thank you, thank you for this incredible story. Thank you for reminding us. That in just doing life, we could miss, we could miss your best moments in our lives. God I'm just asking for all of us in this room that we would walk out of here different. That there wouldn't be an innkeeper among us. We'd fix the lean, we'd adjust our schedules, so that we wouldn't miss the miraculous. This we pray in Jesus name.

Linn Winters: 32:06 Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
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