Jesus – The Perfect Gift (Outline)

The following is the basic outline for the sermon I preached this past Sunday (Dec. 3). Feel free to use it, share it, or comment.

I did record it, so if you would like a copy via email, just let me know in the comment section or by private message.

Have a blessed Monday!


Jesus – The Perfect Gift”

  1. He was given at the perfect time (Galatians 4:4) – Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways
    • Great anticipation among the Jews. Roman rule made them hungry for a Messiah.
    • Rome had unified much of the world under its government. Pax Romana. Safe travel.
    • Rome conquered militarily. Greece had conquered culturally. Common language.
    • False idols had not protected the people from Rome. Greek philosophy and science had left many people empty.
    • The mystery religions of the day spoke of savior-gods and bloody sacrifices, which would have made the gospel of the cross believable. The Greeks also believed in the immortality of the soul, not the body.
    • The Roman army drafted soldiers from all over its territory. The earliest example of the gospel in Britain is from Roman soldiers stationed there.
    • It was the fulfillment of prophecy! (Source: GotQuestions.org)
  2. He was wrapped like no other gift could ever be (Luke 2:12; Philippians 2:7).
    • Wrapped with love (swaddled)
    • Wrapped as a sign (Luke 2:12)
  3. He was exactly what everyone in all the world needs (Luke 2:11) –
    • “a Savior!”
    • But not just ANY Savior – “Christ the Lord!”
  4. He was the greatest expression of love the world would ever see (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10).
    • Unequaled, Unimaginable Surprise! A baby? In Bethlehem? A manger?
    • Unequaled, Unimaginable Sacrifice! God’s Son.
    • Unequaled, Unimaginable Grace! …No secret Savior…No drawing names…No obligation of any kind

Preached @ South Soddy Baptist, 12/03/2017

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Jesus, Preaching, Uncategorized

I Love My Wife

My wife has been out of town for a whole week visiting our oldest daughter in Charleston, South Carolina. On Sunday afternoon I will be picking her up at our local airport, and I’m looking forward to it.

You see, I love my wife. I miss my wife. I want her back at home.

I know men who tolerate their wives. I know a couple of men who hate their wives. I’m not like those men; I love my wife.

Why am I telling you this? Why am I writing a blog post about it? Because sometimes a person needs to know they’re loved. Sometimes a man needs to be a man and say, “This is my wife, and I love her.”

No, it’s not Valentine’s Day. No, it’s not our anniversary, or her birthday, or anything like that. I just love my wife, and I’ll be glad to have her home again.

Sir, do you love your wife? Ma’am, do you love your husband? Why not take a moment and say so? I’m afraid wedon’t say it – or show it – enough. Maybe our marriages would be a little stronger and a little sweeter if we did.

I love you, Valerie. I just wanted you to know.

4 Comments

Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Marriage, Relationships and Family

The REAL Snow Man


Here is just another example of insight into the human psyche gained while driving a school bus. Enjoy!

The Setting

One morning, after picking up several young children, one little boy – a kindergartener –  began to sing one of his most favorite songs…”Let It Go.

Another little boy who was sitting next to him, a second-grader, began pleading with him to stop, after which he begged me to intervene. I couldn’t help it – I had to……let it go, let it go!

The Conversation

The younger boy (Boy 1) was singing the theme song from Frozen, to which the older boy (Boy 2) responded with his own lyrics: “Shuh uht up! Shuh uht up! I don’t want you to sing anymo oh ore!

An illustration of mine from "Life Lessons from the School Bus"

An illustration of mine from “Life Lessons from the School Bus”

Me:  What’s wrong? Don’t you like Frozen?

Boy 2:  NO! It’s a stupid movie!

Me:  What, you don’t like singing snowmen? What about Frosty the Snowman?

Boy 2:  I like Frosty, but he was real! Somebody put a hat on him and he started moving.

Me:  So, you don’t like Olaf?

Boy 2:  I like him, OK, but he’s not real…not like Frosty.

Seriously, if I made this stuff up it wouldn’t be as funny.

Sorta Like…

You know, the above story is sort of like arguments adults have. One particular argument that comes to mind is the one about where life on earth came from (I know the analogy isn’t perfect, but I hope you get the point).

Man 1:  I love to sing about Creation! “Oh Lord my God, when I in awestruck wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made!

Man 2:  Stop it! I don’t want to hear all that nonsense! Sing something else, or sing nothing at all.

Man 1:  But I wan’t to sing! “Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee. ‘How great thou Art! How great Thou art!

Man 2:  STOP IT! I don’t want to hear it! God is NOT great! God is NOT great! He doesn’t even exist!

Man 1:  Yes, He does! And because He created me and gave me life, I want to give Him praise.

Man 2:  Oh, give me a break! I love life as much as anyone, if not more, but I’m not going to praise your God for it!

Man 1:  Oh, really? You believe that human life evolved from something that came from nothing? Do you really want to sing praises to nothingness?

Man 2:  Don’t be silly! Haven’t you ever heard of panspermia?

Man 1:  Uh, no. Not really.

Man 2:  You simpleton! You naive worshipper of a mythical fairy-god! You’re nothing but a slave to a worthless, iron-age book of man-made fiction. Life on earth didn’t evolve from nothing; it was planted here by intelligent life from beyond, from outer space.

Man 1:  Right! You mean God?

Man 2:  No! You idiot! Aliens!

Man 1:  Huh? But…

Man 2:  Shut up! I don’t wan’t to hear any more of your foolishness! God is not real; aliens are!

(Video of Richard Dawkins defending the theory of panspermia: the theory that alien intelligent life, not a Creator God, placed life on this planet.)

Uhmm…OK…  Let it go! Let it go!

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” – Hebrews 11:3

2 Comments

Filed under Aliens, Apologetics, Humor

Shopping – Evidence We Need Jesus

Last Minute

I will confess, I’ve not yet purchased any Christmas gifts for my loved ones and friends, all except for one particular gift that I’m more excited to give than any other ever. I really don’t care if anyone gets anything for me, just as long as they keep Jesus the main thing this year.

However, I did play the part of a loving dad and stood in a cold Black Friday line in front of Best Buy with two of my daughters

The Perfect Gift

But this whole shopping thing got me to thinking: will we ever find the “perfect” gift? So often people spend hours and hours navigating traffic, long lines, websites, and clearance racks trying to find a gift that is just right, one that is just “perfect” for the recipient. Color, size, flash, style, and price all play a part in trying to determine how the gift will be received – will they love it or hate it? Who knows?

Unfortunately, because of the stress of it all, much gift-giving has been reduced to whatever is on sale or the ultimately non-personal gift card. The fact is that the “perfect gift” is an illusion, or a sign, rather, that there is something just beyond our grasp – the real perfect gift.

Already Given

You see, here’s the thing: the only “perfect gift” has already been given; all other gifts pale in comparison. Jesus – the meaning of the season – was the Perfect Gift from God to man, making all other gifts mere reflections.

Seriously, what other gift can compare to the One that was delivered in Bethlehem?

  • He was given at the perfect time (Galatians 4:4);
  • He was wrapped like no other gift could ever be (Luke 2:12; Philippians 2:7);
  • He was exactly what everyone in all the world needs (Luke 2:11);
  • He was the greatest expression of love the world would ever see (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9).

There’s nothing you’re going to find at any mall or specialty store better than what was already given two thousand years ago. Our search for the “perfect” gift is nothing more than a sign – that there’s always something better, something that can’t be purchased, something only grace can provide.

Have a merry Christmas!

(The following video was made a few years ago. It features my wife, Mr. Monkey, and our little dog Nugget – we miss him very much ☹️)

https://youtu.be/fVOSYAjUvJo

7 Comments

Filed under Christmas, salvation

Santa Claus Is Riding My Bus

Larry’s On Board

This morning, as I was pulling off the lot with my school bus, one of the dispatchers waved me down. “Are you still going to be having surgery?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied.

“So, you’re gonna be out after the first of the year?”

“Yes.”

“Perfect!” she exclaimed. “I want Larry to ride with you this morning, because he needs to learn your route…he’ll probably drive it while you’re gone.”

So, no big deal, Larry stepped on to my bus and took a seat. But it’s Larry…not Larry the Cable Guy…but Larry the Santa Claus.

Santa’s On Board

Larry not only looks like Santa, but he is a professional Santa for hire. Larry dresses up and poses for photos with children – like as a mall Santa, etc.

So, when it came time to pick up my elementary students, I told Larry it might get amusing – and I was right 🙂

Earlier on my route I told Larry (a.k.a Santa) that my young kids are not bad, just a little unruly. However, once the little loudmouths saw this older man with a familiar appearance sitting in a seat on their bus, taking notes, attitudes were strangely calmer.

Not one child asked the obvious question, but it was obvious in their glances and demeanor. It was clear what the sneaky little cookie snatchers were thinking: “He looks like Santa Claus…but he’s riding a bus…but he could be Santa…he’s probably not…but what if he is?”

As we approached the school, I began softly singing – just loud enough to be heard – an altered version of a classic Christmas tune.

“You better watch out / You better not cry / You better not pout / I’m telling you why / Santa Claus is riding your bus.”

I looked in the student (rear view) mirror and saw the emotionless, yet slightly-anxious faces of quiet children, all looking forward, except with their eyes darting back and forth in the direction of Larry…

…or was it Santa?

Jesus On Board

It shouldn’t be difficult to guess the spiritual application of this story. What would you change about how you act in life if Jesus were to ride along on your bus?

Oh, but that’s silly, isn’t it? Jesus wouldn’t just show up one day and ride with me to school, would He?

I don’t know. Could He? Does He? Actually, yeah! All the time. Consider these two verses alone:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me. – (Jesus) Matthew 25:40

[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. – Hebrews 13:5

I guess you could say He’s one of those children I transport…or not…or maybe… And beside that, as a believer, He’s always with me. Hmmm, maybe I should quit laughing at the kids and start treating them more like I would treat Jesus, should He ride my bus.

And He does, you know.

How are you behaving on YOUR school bus?

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Living, Christmas, General Observations, Humor, Jesus

Fear In the Christmas Story

Christmas Sermons

You may have never considered it, but it’s a challenge to come up with Christmas sermons year after year without being too repetitive. Sure, one could simply preach through Luke 2 every year, but a little creativity can go a long way.

This year I will preach a couple of sermons I have preached in other places, but they will be new to the folk here at South Soddy Baptist. The first Christmas sermon of the year will be based on the notes I’m going to share with you this morning.

To Fear, Or Not to Fear

Did you know there are actually some honest-to-goodness phobias related to Christmas? Here are just a few.

  • Selaphobia – the fear of flashing Christmas lights.
  • Ghabhphobia – the fear of presents or gifts.
  • Krikophobia – the fear of church services.
  • Cyssanophobia – the fear of kissing under the mistletoe.
  • Festivalisophobia – a phobia of the whole Christmas thing.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be any wonder that we can find several places in the Bible where angels told people to “fear not.” Folks back in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago probably didn’t have a fear of kissing under the mistletoe, but they had every reason to be frightened by talking beings clothed in bright light telling them about babies in mangers, virgin births, and wedding plans.

The story of Christ’s birth is associated with great joy, but it was also full of great initial fear. At least one person in the story (King Herod) never got over his phobias and paranoia, but he never heard an angel tell him “fear not,” either.

Below are my notes/outline from which I will deliver this morning’s sermon at South Soddy Baptist Church. When you have a moment, read the Scriptures I reference. See for yourself what the Spirit has to say.

“Fear In the Christmas Story”

1. Luke 1:12  Zacharias (a faithful, praying priest) was “troubled” (G5015, tarasso), and “fear”(5401, phobos) fell upon him.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not…thy prayer is heard.”

2. Luke 1:29  Mary (a confused young girl) was “troubled” (1298, diatarasso)

The angel said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.”

3. Matthew 1:20  The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph (hurt and scared) in a dream and said, “fear (phobeo) not to take Mary thy wife…”

4. Luke 1:65  “Fear (phobos) came on all that dwelt around” Zacharias and Elisabeth when Zacharias’ “mouth was opened…his tongue was loosed, and he spake, and praised God.”

5. Luke 2:9  The shepherds were “sore afraid” (phobeo phobos megas) …see also Daniel 10:7-8 and Revelation 1:17.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

6. Matthew 2:3  Herod, because the wise men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews,” was “troubled” (taraso), and all Jerusalem with him.

7. What should we take away from this today?

  1. True holiness will expose humanity’s sinfulness.
  2. Godly fear will be answered with peace, result in obedience, and respond with praise.
  3. The fear of Christmas will manifest itself in hate, a lack of peace and joy, and no hope.
  4. If you trust in Jesus, He promises the peace of Christmas year-round. John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Boston Psychotherapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin (an agnostic) said: “[Some atheists are] not unlike the bully who pushes other people down in order to make himself feel better. There are atheists who have a very uncomfortable belief about [their non-belief] they feel the need to push other people down. There is an emotional confusion among some atheists that drives them to promote their product on others [to make them feel better about themselves]. – From an interview on Bill O’Reilly, 12/2/14

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Christmas, Church, Preaching

Still Eating Leftovers?

As I was preparing to schedule a post for Sunday morning, I noticed that a post I wrote a couple of years ago had been getting some views.

What’s more, the link to a sermon (unedited) I preached 2 years ago at my last church (Riverside Baptist) was also getting some attention. It was a good sermon, actually, so why not share it again?

If you need some real encouragement, make sure you listen all the way to the third point of this sermon, especially if you feel like a “leftover.”

http://riversidesermons.sermon.net/main/main/20551561

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Preaching