Tag Archives: Christmas

The Day After Christmas Is Proof We Need to Be Redeemed

I know that the title was a little long, but don’t let it intimidate you. Yes, for some of you what you are about to read will be profound – it may even hurt your head.

Yet, despite how much you’ve endured this week, please take just a minute or two, read on, and consider the following thought:

The feelings we have after Christmas point to the fact that we have not been fully redeemed. Our bodies are still waiting for that final transformation.

[We] also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:23b CSB

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 CSB

What does this have to do with “after Christmas“?

Celebrating Christmas has completely worn me out. I’m tired of carols, smiles, joy, and jingle bells… even eggnog. I need a break.

So, just imagine how difficult it would be to survive heaven for more than a day or two?

Not only will we need new bodies that never grow old, get weak, or want to go to bed before sundown, but we will need to be set free from all the chains of this mortal flesh! In other words, everything that turns an elf into a Grinch around December 26th or 27th.

Last week I conducted a funeral service for the wife of a dear friend. I spoke of her death as a process we all must go through: a process of putting off this mortal, corruptible body and putting on an immortal one. I spoke of how we would either all have to die or be changed in the “twinkling of an eye,” but none of us are ready for heaven as is.

Our corruptible minds and bodies must be exchanged for that which is incorruptible, else we won’t be able to endure the celebration that is to come.

Without being changed, heaven would be full of worn-out billion-year-olds leaving the dirty dishes for the angels to deal with.

Heaven will be a celebration of the Redeemer by the redeemed.

If the corruptible got in, it wouldn’t be long before they felt like hell.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christmas, clothing, salvation, the future, worship

Christmas IS the Gospel

This month will see a lot of Christmas sermons preached, and if you actually go to church somewhere, you might actually get to hear some 😉

But if you aren’t planning on attending any church services this December, or if you just can’t get enough of sermons on the subject of Christmas, I would encourage you to listen to the one I’m attaching below.

Several years ago (2012) while pastoring at another church, I delivered a sermon entitled “Christmas Is the Gospel.” It was recorded on my iPhone that was sitting on the pulpit, so don’t expect too high a quality of production.

Why did the angels tell the shepherds what they are about to hear was “good tidings”? Pick up a Bible and turn to the book of Luke, chapter two, and follow along.

Listen: Christmas IS the Gospel

And remember, “sharing” is caring 🙂

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Filed under Christmas, God, Preaching, salvation

The Shepherds and the Sign

The following is a sermon.

Literally, I wrote out my entire sermon in preparation for a service in which I would be preaching to a congregation in Pakistan. I had to preach my first Sunday morning message at 1 a.m.! My interpreter said it would be easier to translate for me if I had my sermon, or at least my outline, printed out.

However, once I started preaching, it became obvious that what I wrote was both too much in length and too much in detail for a translator. Especially doing it over Facebook Live with a lag in the signal.

So, what I wanted to do was post the originally written sermon so that you, when you have the time, can read through it and be blessed this Christmas season.

We will be looking at Luke 2:8-20.

  1. The Typical Shepherd Story
    • There were poor shepherds watching their flocks at night when suddenly, without any warning, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them… looking like a young child dressed in a white sheet with a shiny belt, wings, and a halo.
    • The angel gave these poor, unwanted, unloved, outcasts – because people thought of shepherds as the lowest of society, except for those with disease or Gentiles – the announcement of the birth of the Savior of the world.
    • Then they were told to go to Bethlehem and knock on doors, ask all the people “have you seen a special baby anywhere? He’s supposed to be wrapped in swaddling cloth,” and look wherever they could until they found a baby in a manger.
    • When they did find him (and, of course, they brought sheep with them), they worshipped Him. …along with the Wise men. Except the wise men didn’t show up for at least another 2 years.

  2. The Non-Typical Story
    • Unlike what most people assume, it is very likely that the shepherds watching over their sheep at night were not normal shepherds, but Temple shepherds, priestly shepherds, Levitical shepherds.
    • Unlike what most people assume, these were not unlearned men, but men who had been taught in the Law of Moses and were very aware of the requirements for sacrificial lambs.
    • Unlike normal shepherds and normal sheep, these shepherds and these sheep were special. These sheep were meant to be sold to Jews who didn’t have their own spotless lambs for a sin sacrifice. These sheep were very, very valuable and had to be watched day and night. They were considered “the royal stock of David” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon). They were even guarded and watched over from towers made of stone.
    • Unlike what most people assume, it is very likely the sheep these shepherds watched over were the ones who would be born in special birthing rooms, almost like a baby sheep maternity ward, that were clean and stocked with all the things required to aid in the birth of the lamb and to protect it from being hurt as it took its first steps.
    • Unlike what most people think, these shepherds would have been looking forward to the angel’s appearance. No, they may not have thought it would be an angel and the heavenly host, but they would most likely be aware of the prophecy found in Micah 4:8. It reads: And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
      • What is so special about this prophecy? To begin, the “tower of the flock” is migdal `eder in the Hebrew language.
      • Migdal-`Eder is the name of a small village near Bethlehem (See Genesis 35:21) and hence associated with Bethlehem itself.
      • Therefore, these special shepherds watching over very special sheep must have dreamed, they must have hoped, that they would live to hear that announcement. However, I am sure they still would have been shocked and terrified by the angel of the Lord.
      • In case you miss it, the Bible says the shepherds were “sore afraid,” which means they were absolutely terrified beyond words! This was no child in a white robe; it was an angel who had come directly from the presence of God! His brightness would have been indescribable and unbearable. Also, angels are fearful beings, warriors, like the one who killed 185,000 Assyrians in ONE NIGHT!
    • Unlike what most people think, these shepherds knew exactly where to go find this baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, and in all likelihood, it wasn’t a dirty stable in someone’s basement or a dark and dreary cave. IT WAS BACK AT Migdal-`Eder!!
    • Notice, the first verse in our text reads, “And there were in the SAME COUNTRY shepherds abiding in the field…” The words translated as “the same country” mean in the general area, in the outer expanse around an area. In other words, the shepherds were out in the wide-open area around the protective towers called Migdal-`Eder.
    • The shepherds did not need to follow the star, nor ask directions; they said, “Let us now go unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass…” They knew exactly where to go and what to look for, and they went back to the birthing room where sacrificial lambs were born and wrapped – the Tower of the Flock!

  3. The Sign
    • When Luke says that the shepherds went to Bethlehem to “see this thing,” what did they go to see? The “sign.” The angel said, “This shall be a sign unto you, You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
    • Stop and think about what is happening here.
      • You have priestly shepherds, those who are very familiar with the sacrificial system and how a spotless lamb must be used for a sin offering.
      • Next, you have shepherds who have been expecting, generation after generation, hundreds of years, the announcement of the coming of their Messiah, the Son of David, the Lamb of God.
      • Then you have a message from an angel that the Savior of the world has come. How could they know it’s true? What would be the evidence that this babe born in Bethlehem was worthy to bring joy to the entire world? The evidence would be the “sign,” and that was:
        • You’d find the babe – which is the first confirmation that the word from the angel could be trusted.
        • The babe would be wrapped in swaddling cloth. It’s one thing to wrap up a newborn, but a specific kind of cloth strips (some say were made from the used garments of the priests) would have been very unusual.
        • Then, the babe would be lying in a manger (In the exact place you would expect the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world to be born – Migdal Edar!)
          • Languages are funny things. Sometimes I have to speak through an interpreter so that I can be understood. And sometimes the words in one language are very hard to translate into another language.
          • But the word the angel of the Lord used to tell of Jesus “lying” in the bed was critically important. And it was not an accident, nor was it a coincidence, the WAY the word used.
          • The word we translate as “lying” in English is the Greek word keimenon. But what makes this word so special is the case it is in. To be specific (and I know this may sound complicated – and it can be) this one word, a verb, “lying,” is in Present Middle or Passive Deponent Participle – Accusative Singular Neuter. Are you totally confused? Are you wondering what’s so exciting?
          • What I am going to tell you next should make you want to truly shout with Joy! That’s what the angel said, correct? Joy to the world, correct? A Savior is born, correct? This shall be a sign, correct?

            The accusative case refers to the case used for a noun or pronoun that is a direct object. In this case, Jesus – the babe – is the noun or the subject of the action in this verb.

            The Middle voice, however, is what’s so exciting. We don’t have a part of speech like this in the English language. That’s why it’s so hard to understand the full impact of the angel’s message. But what the Middle voice tells us is that the object… and who is that? Jesus, the babe… is the one lying in the manger, but … and here is the part you’ve been waiting for… in this case the object or subject of the verb is the one performing the action! Did you understand what I just said?

            What does Isaiah 7:14 say? It says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

            What did the angel Gabriel say to Joseph in Matthew 1:21-23? And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

            Dear Church, what the shepherds found in the Tower of the Flock, Migdal Edar, there in the birthing stall where sacrificial sheep were born and wrapped so they would not be marred so that they could be sacrificed as a sin offering, was a baby – Jesus – who wasn’t just a baby placed in a manger by his mother, but GOD WITH US! EMMANUEL!

            HE was the “subject performing the action!”

            HE was responsible for being in the manger!

            HE was responsible for being wrapped in swaddling clothes!

            HE – Jesus Christ – God in flesh – God with us – Emmanuel – “…thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant – the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 – and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

  4. The Shepherd’s Joy, Joy to the World!

    My dear brothers and sisters, it doesn’t matter if we live in America or England, India or Pakistan, Israel or Egypt, Russia or China… the TRUE meaning of Christmas is still the same – the Savior of the world has come!

    The shepherds had a sad job. They were responsible for raising precious, beautiful little lambs, making sure they were healthy. They protected those sheep with their very lives! They devoted their whole lives to the care and nurturing of those helpless, harmless lambs – all so they could be slaughtered, so their blood could be a temporary measure of forgiveness. How heartbreaking! How sad!

    Don’t you know that somewhere in the shepherd’s heart he longed for the day when the reality of what the sacrifice of lambs symbolized would finally take place? Did he ever think, “One day we will not have to do this ever again”?

    Well, over 2,000 years ago, in the little town of Bethlehem, or maybe just outside the town in a stone tower, the Promise of the ages was fulfilled! God took on humanity and dwelt among us! And where the shepherds found Him was the sign…and HOW the shepherds found Him was the sign…and when they saw it – when they met Him – they were never the same!

    Luke says that they “returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen…” And, oh, they had a lot to praise God for, don’t you think? How privileged they were to be the ones who got to hear the announcement that finally came! How thrilled they must have been to see the angel of the Lord and the heavenly host! No church choir would ever compare to that, I’m sure! But most of all, they got to see Jesus, God in flesh, the Great I Am, Messiah, the Savior of the world.

    And don’t miss that last little part of Luke 2:20…”as it was told unto them.”

    Aren’t you glad the promises of God and His Word are true? If so, you can rejoice! You can glorify God! You can praise Him for all the things that you have heard and seen! And you can tell others what Christmas means to you. You celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, the Savior of your soul, and that God’s Word is true!

    And may this Christmas remind you that if the promise of the coming of the Messiah was true, then the promise of the coming again of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is also true. We may not have been able to see him with our own eyes in a manger, walking the shores of Galilee, feeding the 5,000, dying on the cruel cross, or after He rose from the grave and ate with the disciples. Today we rejoice in faith! We glorify God for the Spirit in our lives! We praise Him for saving us from our sin and delivering us from death unto life!

    But one day, maybe soon, we will hear a trumpet, be changed, and see Him face-to-face as He is! That is worth telling people about! But should that glorious day not come in our lifetimes, we still have this promise that to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord! Amen? Hallelujah!

Remember the shepherds this Christmas, and give God the glory, for great things he has done!

Amen.



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Filed under Apologetics, Bible Study, Christmas

Do You Have After-Christmas Gifts?

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11

Late-Comers

Part of the Christmas story can be found in the book of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. There, in chapter two, we read of several wise men, Magi, who followed the star till it rested over the place where the young Jesus was living.

But what most people fail to notice is that only the shepherds came to visit Jesus while he was still a baby in a manger. The Magi came later, once they were living “in the house” and Jesus was a “young child.” And, based on Herod’s decree that all male children 2 years old and younger should be killed (Matt. 2:16), Jesus could have been a toddler up and walking.

Simply put, generally, every manger scene protested against by atheists is not a faithful representation of the Christmas story. How ironic is that? But I digress…

The Gifts

When the Magi came to Bethlehem in search of “he that is born King of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2), they brought with them three very rare and valuable gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were not random gifts, but ones with specific political, spiritual, and practical importance; they were meant to recognize a literal, earthly, but also heavenly King.

gold frankincense and myrrhGold was a universally recognized precious metal, symbolic of all wealth. Frankincense was a substance primarily used as incense, but also mixed with other substances to create the holy anointing oil placed on high priests and kings. Myrrh was a substance used for things ranging all the way from cosmetics and antiseptics, to perfuming the living and embalming the dead.

According to Matthew 2:11, the Magi fell down before Jesus, which would have been an appropriate response when in the presence of royalty (and these men knew the difference). But the wise men did more than fall prostrate before royalty, they “worshiped him.”  This young king was more than just “King of the Jews,” but the long-promised Messiah, and they offered their gift to the Son of God.

Are You Wise?

As long as I can remember there have been sermons preached during and before Christmas entitled, “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” The sermons focus primarily on the seeking leading up to Christmas, but rarely, if ever, on the gifts given after the celebration is over. But today is different.

Today, I am going to ask you to consider three gifts we should give, now that the birthday celebration is over.

  • Gold. Gold represented wealth. In your worship of the King, will you give Him your wealth? In reality, God owns everything, including everything He loans unto you. But with your heart, are you willing to lay everything that is most valuable to you at His feet?
  • Frankincense. Frankincense represented worship. Would you be willing to fall down before Jesus, or do you hold back some of your Frankincense in reserve? Are there idols in your life – people or things – for which you reserve a little of that anointing oil, making those things lords of your life? Would you be willing to make Jesus Lord of all? Will you worship him without reservation?
  • Myrrh. Myrrh was symbolic of the beauty of life, from beginning to end. Would you give to Jesus everything that makes you happy? Everything that brings you hope? Everything that is sweet-smelling? Everything that hides your faults and failures, disguising your true self? Would you give Jesus your life? He can do more with it than you can do on your own.

Returns

For several days after Christmas people will stand in line to return and/or exchange unwanted gifts. Many will trade what others gave them for something they want more. Others will just ask for a refund or in-store credit.

Rest assured that when you give your gifts to Jesus, he will not return them, exchange them, or re-gift them next year. But will you, once you realize what you’ve given, want to take something back?

Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution. Now that Christmas is over, be like the Magi and leave everything at Jesus’ feet, then “depart…another way.” Once you give Jesus those three gifts, you’ll never be the same.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christmas, God, Love of God, salvation, wisdom, worship

After Christmas: Proof We Need Redemption

So, how was your Christmas?

Was it everything you dreamed it would be? Did everything go as planned without any family drama?

Were all the decorations beautiful?

Have you been listening to Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving? Have you been drinking egg nog for the last three weeks? Have you spent hours shopping while listening to Salvation Army bells ringing?

Are you glad it’s over?

Are you a little tired of the parties, the celebrations, the concerts, the pageants, the tons of gift wrapping, the crowds, and the never-ending tunes about lights, bells, joy, and Santa?

Fact is if you are tired of it all and are ready for life to get back to normal, then you’re human and not an elf, and that’s an important truth to consider.

Celebrating Christmas has completely worn me out. I’ve had my fill of carols, smiles, joy, and jingle bells… even eggnog. I need a break.

And believe it or not, these feelings we have after Christmas – the weariness of celebration –  point to the fact that we have not been fully redeemed; our bodies are still waiting for that final transformation.

[We] also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:23b CSB

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 CSB

So, just imagine how difficult it would be to survive heaven for more than a day or two?

Not only will we need new bodies that never grow old, get weak, and want to go to bed before sundown, but we will need to be set free from all the chains of this mortal flesh – everything that turns an elf into a Grinch around December 26th or 27th.

Our corruptible minds and bodies must be exchanged for that which is incorruptible, else we won’t be able to endure the eternal and glorious celebration that is to come.

Without being changed, heaven would be full of worn-out billion-year-olds leaving the dirty dishes for the angels to deal with.

Heaven will be a celebration of the Redeemer by the redeemed.

So don’t be surprised when I say, “You must be born again” (John 3:7 NLT). 

If the corruptible got in, heaven wouldn’t stay heaven for long; it would feel like hell.

Think about it: Are you ready for Heaven?

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Filed under Apologetics, Christmas, clothing, salvation, the future, worship

Merry Christmas from Georgia

Merry Christmas from my family to yours, wherever you are in the world!

Included in this family photo taken in our living room in the parsonage of Bethlehem Baptist in Warthen, GA: Myself, Valerie (my wife of 25 years), Marie (my mother of 52 years), Haley, Emma (11-month-old granddaughter), Alicia and Josh (Westbrook), Katie and Gus (the fiancé Pearson).

Nothing like matching pajamas, right? Funny thing, though…it has been so warm yesterday and today that we had to turn on the air conditioning in December!

Happy birthday, Jesus!

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Time Passing By Too Quickly?

Only 6 Months

It’s June; he’s only six years old; and he’s just seen a commercial for the coolest, most awesome toy ever created by man. The problem is that Christmas is still 6 months away.

I could have used my grandaughter, Emma, for the illustration, but at less than a year old, she doesn’t have a concept of “6 months.” But ain’t she cute?

Little Billy (it’s always Billy, isn’t it?)  asked, no pleaded with his mom and dad to immediately go to the toy store. He HAD to have it. But mom and dad, with words that bring tears to any kid’s eyes, calmly, cruelly said, “You’ll have to wait till Christmas.”

What? NOOOO!” cried Billy. And so, in response to his anguish, what words did his dad choose to comfort poor Billy? “Now son, Christmas is only 6 months away.” Again, Billy cries out “NOOOO!”

What is Billy’s problem? To a child looking forward to the best day of the year, the day when his dreams will come true, six months seems like an eternity! Every day will pass by like snails on Valium.

Only 6 Months?

He’s only 60 years old. There are so many things he’d like to have done, but time just slipped away. Now it seems like every moment is picking up the pace. Time is flying by and he is scared.

Not long ago Bill went in for some tests, only to get a call from the doctor the next day. There were some results that needed to be talked about in person, so William was asked to come back into the office. With a sullen look, the oncologist said, “William, you’ve only got about 6 months to live.” Only 6 months?

Want to Slow Down Time?

For Billy, 6 months is an eternity. Nothing he can do will make time go by any quicker. It will seem like forever until Christmas.

For William, 6 months will seem like a blink of an eye. There will be nothing he can do to slow down the clock. Eternity will come knocking at his door.

How could William, then, become more like Billy? What would make William’s time seem like an eternity here on earth? The answer could be found in the truth of Colossians 3:2…”Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Oh, that our hearts could long for heaven the way we long for earthly pleasures! As a child longs for Christmas, why can’t we long for that celestial homecoming? The day that we set our affections on things above will be the day time down here slows down.

Need More Time?

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Watch the sands in your hour-glass multiply as you “look forward to a city whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Wouldn’t it be great if we could look toward the end of our lives with the same expectation of a child longing for Christmas?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christmas, Future, Life Lessons, the future

A Christmas Wish

Lists

Christmas wish lists can be really amusing. Recently a mother of a needy family gave me a list of requested items for her children. I was told that the children would be happy with anything. Really? Would her children be happy with chalk, a box of Crayons, a wooden train, and a slinky? What about a stick?

Today’s children are more spoiled today than ever before. Not only do they want the newest toys and gadgets, but the toys and gadgets they want are more advanced than anything Captain Kirk used.

Wishes

And then there are the wishes that people make around Christmas time. Some people wish for world peace. Others wish for Michael Jackson to return from the dead to do a benefit concert for world hunger.

Right now the most popular wishes involve one side or the other of Trump’s impeachment. Some wish Nancy Pelosi would have a broom accident when she flies home from Washington. Others wish Trump would finally be convicted for conspiring with the Russians to move the US capital to Trump Tower.

My Wish

So what’s my wish? My wish is that things would just go back to the way they were when this picture was taken.

Other than for the goofy safety glasses, I looked pretty cool!

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I worked for a company that serviced nuclear facilities. My job involved flying on commercial aircraft all over the country. And whenever I flew on a new or different airliner, I asked to take a picture of the cockpit.

Here, the pilot actually told me to sit in his seat and wear his hat while he took the picture. What’s even more incredible is that while I was sitting there the engines were still running. He told me to put my hand on the throttles while the engines were still running!

Can you even imagine this happening today? Not hardly. That’s why I wish we could go back to an earlier, more trusting day and age; long before 9/11 and the jerks that ruined everything.

My Hope

Well, even though things may never be the same again, there will come a day when peace will fill the land. There will come a day when men’s swords are beaten into plows. But that day will only come when the Prince of Peace assumes the throne.

When He came before, He came as a humble baby.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

 The next time He comes, things will be a little different.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:” – Luke 1:32

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” – Matthew 16:26-27

 What a Christmas that would be!

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Filed under America, Christmas, General Observations

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 few sermons I have preached in other places, but they will be new to the folk here at Bethlehem Baptist. Here are the notes to one that I preached this past Sunday.

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

 

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How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God

A Christmas Sermon Outline

Have you ever been given a gift, or seen one under the Christmas tree, that needed no card or tag informing you who sent it? Maybe the meticulous wrapping was a clue to who the wrapper was.

I know Christmas is still a few days away, but some of you might need something to preach or teach between now and then. Therefore, please accept as my gift of an outline I prepared, “How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God.”

Please, feel free to use it 🙂

“How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God”

I.  Because of When THIS Gift Was Given

·   Galatians 4:4 “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son…”

II.  Because of How THIS Gift Was Wrapped

·   Luke 2:12 “And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

·   Philippians 2:7 “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”

·   Hebrews 4:15 KJV – “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”

III.  Because THIS Gift Was Truly Free

·   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He GAVE…”

·   Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace…it is a GIFT of God, NOT of works…”

·   Romans 3:24 “Being justified FREELY by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

IV.  Because THIS Gift Was Exactly What We Needed

A.  To Bring Us Life – Luke 2:11 “Unto you is born, in the city of David, a SAVIOR…”

B.  To Bring Us Joy – Lamentations 3:22-23 “His mercies are new every morning”

V.  Because of the Love that Went Into It.

·   1 John 4:9 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”

VI.  Conclusion:

A.  Accept the Gift of Jesus

B.  Give Thanks! – 2 Cor. 9:15 “Thanks be to God for this unspeakable Gift!”

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