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December 4, 2005. Are You Ready For Christmas?
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“Are You Ready For Christmas?”

December 4, 2005.  Pastor Matt

 

 

 

Jokes:

You do know what would have happened if it had been three wise WOMEN instead of men, don't you? They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought disposable diapers as gifts!

 

What did Santa say to Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve?
Looks like rain, dear.

 

What do snowmen eat for breakfast? 
Snowflakes. 

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Intro:

Luke 2:8-15.  8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."  13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."  15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

Matthew 2:9-11.  9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

 

Luke 2:10.  "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

 

Good news/ good tidings (KJV) = good proclamations = let me shout it from the roof-top

 

Great: The Greek word megas (as in the biggest, highest, loudest, of highest rank)

 

On earth peace:

 

peace; completeness.  The state of being at ease is experienced both externally and internally.

 

 

Matthew 2:10.  10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (KJV)

 

Exceeding: excessive (as in more than you know what to do with), very, very, very much (as

in there are no words to explain so you say very, very a bunch of times)

 

great: mega again

 

There is no joy that is greater

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas is supposed to be a time of good news, great joy, and peace!

 

Good news that our savior was born

 

Great joy that our sins are forgiven through Him

 

Inner peace that comes with knowing the Son of God came to the Earth for us, died and rose again for us, and lives in us…we have peace knowing where we are going when we die.  We have peace because He is in us.

 

Is that what it is for you?

 

Or is it something else?

 

What are some common things that make your holidays anything other than joyous and peaceful?

 

 

 

Today we are going to look at a couple of things that steal away the joy of Christmas, the joy of our Savior’s birth.

 

(Some common) things that usually steal our joy and ways to prevent that from happening:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem #1: Stuff

 

Getting giving buying, buying, buying, shopping

How many hours in December do you spend in a store or online buying gifts…

….also food buying and preparing. 

“There is so much out there, I don’t know if I can get it all.”

“I want so much, how do I choose.”

 

We can get lost, especially this time of the year, in all the stuff…

…How do we fight the stuff monster?

 

Mandy’s idea:  “Jesus only had three gifts”

 

Cure # 1: Remember the Savior

 

Luke 2:11.  11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

 

No matter what Happens, don’t forget the real meaning of Christmas.

Don’t let the world overwhelm you with its version of what Christmas is about

 

If we realize it is not about commercialism, we don’t try so hard/ that does not become a priority. 

 

Our perspective needs to change.

 

Remind yourself of the true meaning of Christmas.  Remind your kids. 

 

Our emphasis needs to change: It is a time of celebration! Celebrate the true meaning!

 

How would you celebrate Christmas differently if you focused on the Jesus and His birth?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem # 2:  Expectations

 

What are some things people expect of you this Christmas?

 

-         buy others stuff

-         what the kids want under the tree

-         even having a tree

-         go to all the family, work, school, friend functions. 

-         House must be decorated…especially the lights

 

The Holidays often run us ragged, control our lives

 

Instead of trying to meet everyone’s expectations, here is another option:

 

Cure # 2: Follow the Savior

 

Matthew 2:11.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.

 

Even as a child, these great men of society bowed down

 

They surrendered there lives to his Lordship

 

Romans 10:9.  That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

 

What does it mean to bow down to Jesus this Christmas and make Him Lord?

 

A Lord is someone who has power and authority over you.

 

When someone is in authority over you, you do not do anything without His permission.

 

How many things are you doing this Christmas without His permission?

 

Do what God tells you to do this Christmas and don’t worry about what does not get done or who is not happy.

 

-         the world is not Lord of your life

-         your kids are not Lord of your life

-         your family is not Lord of your life

-         not even the church is Lord of your life

 

 

Problem # 3: Painful Memories

 

This time of the year we are often reminded of

-         loved ones we have lost

-         painful things we have been through

-         even the pain we are currently experiencing

o       (we think everyone around us is having a joyful holiday season except me)

-         sometimes just the pain of thinking we don’t have enough or we cant experience the holiday in ways we see others

o       poor

o       lonely

o       hurting

o       depressed

 

Here is what we need to do:

 

Cure # 3: Embrace the Savior

 

Luke 2:10.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Luke 2:14.  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

 

Rather than inner pain and tears, Jesus would rather give you inner joy and peace.

 

-         This does not mean that you won’t grieve a great loss or you won’t feel pain.

o       We are in a fallen world and things happen all around us that bring pain

 

READ A PEACE BEYOND

 

James 4:8.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Philippians 4:6-7.  6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 15:13.  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

In Hebrews 2:17 we see that Jesus was “made like his brothers in every way”

Luke 2:11-12.   11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

 

A baby was born.  From Birth to death Jesus experienced life.  Loss, pain, temptation, poverty, betrayal, joy, sadness/tears, fatigue, painful memories, etc.

 

He understand what you have been through and He wants to help you. 

 

Through these tougher times, draw closer to Him, trust in Him, Lean on Him, and He will help you through

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem # 4: Family (including the church family)

 

Cure # 4: Show them the Savior

 

How do we do this?

 

A. Be Patient

 

Ephesians 4:2.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

 

-         put up with each other

-         be patient with each other

-         be humble, be the better man/woman

-         be gentle, no matter what the holidays throw at you

 

 

B. Be forgiving

 

Why was Jesus born?

-         to die

-         so your sins could be forgiven

 

In Colossians 3:13, we are commanded to Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

 

Mark 11:25.  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

 

 

 

Remember the prodigal son? 

-         the father was willing to forgive but the son was not

-         Has the Father forgiven but you haven’t?

 

 

Jesus put a huge emphasis on forgiving others, we should to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closing

 

A child’s Christmas program: 

 

“Doesn’t Christmas take all that unhappiness away?  Shouldn’t we all be like Santa and give ourselves away…our love, our hearts, our talents?  And then their might finally be peace on earth and good will towards men!

 

 

Not.

 

Not like Santa.  Like Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Peace Beyond (written early 2004)

Recently, I have made a discovery about some of the really difficult things that people have to walk through. I have had some tough things of my own to deal with. In fact, within the last month or so, it is not an exaggeration to say that my world, as I knew it, has been shattered. I am discovering that things were not as they seemed. I am newly acknowledging the depth of my past experiences of abuse in many different forms—verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual. In that discovery, I have found a new realization of the rock-solid reliability of Father God. It is good to know that He does not change. It is better to know that when the world around me falls apart… when my mind and soul cannot bear the burden of sorrow, I still have grace to stand and be healed.

This is not something I could ever do in my own strength. In fact, my tendency is to sit down and not move, to let the waves of desolation and grief overwhelm me. At my very core, however, I am still certain of the tender mercies of God regardless of how I feel. All morning, I have been humming the chorus of “For Those Tears I Died”… and I haven’t even heard the song in well over ten years! “And Jesus said, ‘Come to the waters. Stand by my side. I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied. I felt every teardrop, when in darkness you cried, and I’m here to remind you, that for those tears I died.’” It is the certainty of His goodness, regardless of what the circumstances look like, that keeps me clinging more tightly than ever to the Hand that guides me, even through the valley of the shadow of death. It is the knowledge of His pain in my pain that keeps me sane in the midst of insanity. I trust Him. I trust that He will not let things become greater than I can bear. I can bear all things through Christ who strengthens me.

That having been said, of course, I have also realized that I cannot put a spiritual band-aid on a wound that requires major attention. When a person falls and breaks something, and has bones sticking out… that is not the time to pick them up, give them some pain-killer, pat them on the shoulder and send them on their way. In my world, I have discovered that there are some things I need to do to take care of myself. Those are things necessary for my healing. I need to stop and take some time to deal with what I am experiencing rather than just glossing things over. I have begun to acknowledge the depth of my pain and the breadth of my anger. I have made a determination to forgive, not only the offending parties, but myself as well; however, these are not matters than can be resolved instantly.

The reality is that I am human and my human soul cannot simply make a decision and walk away from the hurt undealt-with. I need to allow myself time to feel the pain that has been buried for years. I have to allow myself grace to be angry, as long as I learn to let go of the anger when it is time to let go of it. I am finding places and opportunities to get this stuff out in the open, so that it can be cleansed and washed in the water of His word, and opened up to the healing power of His blood.

This is something I’ve noticed that people in general (and it’s not true of everyone) have deliberately overlooked. It is not the fault of anyone. It is simply the social mindset. It is the spirit of the age… to “get over it” or to cover it up and never acknowledge it. We have a society of walking wounded for this very reason. It is only in Christ and the revelation of His Holy Spirit that I have been able to allow myself a dose of reality. Were it not for Him, I would still be hiding from myself. The people who don’t know Him will sometimes force themselves to deal with past hurts and wounding. What happens with those who don’t know Him, though, is that they can never become whole and complete without Him, even in their search for healing. Many who know Him never allow themselves to deal with those things. With those who know Him, He gives grace, and still walks with them wherever they are at, but His Spirit whispers, “Come, let me love you. Let me heal you. Let me make you whole,” and sometimes they do eventually open up to His work of wholeness and healing in their lives.

The realness of my experience has been in letting myself hurt. It is painful. It is wounding. It is an experience, which has changed my life forever after. It is something that shapes who I am, even now. The tears come, or the empty immobility of grief grips me. The fear that I carried is now out in the open and I am afraid… But, as I feel, as I experience, as I acknowledge, I also whisper, in the depth of my heart, to the One who made me. “Oh, Lord, I hurt… I am in pain… I have no tears left or strength to grieve… I am afraid.” As I open myself up in the midst of those moments to His presence, even in the pain, I can feel His very gentle hand touching my heart. Sometimes, I sense the presence of ministering angels. Sometimes it is simply a feeling that He is sitting next to me, like the best of friends, feeling my pain right along with me. Those manifestations of His presence, more than anything, comfort me and bring healing to my soul. It is the reassurance that He loves me more than I love myself. He was with me in the middle of the memory (as if it were happening today)… and the fierce gentleness of His Holy Spirit wrapped me up in the cloak of His presence as the ugliness and the pain were happening, protecting my heart from the hurt. This is truly “the peace which passes all understanding.”