Tag Archives: Jesus

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

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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?

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

Please Don’t Ask This Question

It’s Inevitable

Every year I get asked the same question from the same people, and then a few extra (I’m always meeting new people). It is a question that is usually, if not always, asked with only good intentions. However, it’s a question I hate to hear, much less answer.

As a matter of fact, last week our oldest daughter sent the question to me via a text message. I did not reply.

What was the question? What did she ask me with a text? What did she ask that others have also begun to ask?

“What do you want for Christmas?”

I hate that question.

What Is a Gift

I guess what really bothers me about the whole question is the fact that I’m being asked. You see, if you want to give me a gift, give me a gift. If, however, you don’t know me very well, and you have no idea what I would like to receive, don’t ask me – that’s cheating.

Folks, I  am at the age where most of the things on my “wish list” are beyond my budget or I’ve already deemed them an unwise purchase. Otherwise, I’d already have them. For example, I can’t afford a Rolex, but I’d love to have one. On the other hand, I’d hate to know I was wearing a timepiece that cost the equivalent of a mission trip that I could have taken.

Just last week my wife suggested, “Why don’t you just ask for something you need?” Well, then, would it be a gift? No, it would be asking for charity wrapped in shiny paper.

If you want to give me a gift, seriously, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If it does, and it was from your heart, then fine. However, the gifts that mean the most to me are those that imply you’ve made the connection between the gift, the giver, and me. The gift I want is one which tells me, “This gift is because I care; I thought of you when I got this.”

What is a gift? Actually, a gift is something special. If it’s not special, then what is it, exactly?

Why the Gift?

Stop and think about it, my friends. Why do we give gifts during this time of year, anyway? It’s because God “gave his only begotten Son” to those He loved, who needed Him, who couldn’t afford Him, and in most cases didn’t even know how or what to ask for.

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. – 1 John 4:9 

Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift. – 2 Corinthians 9:15 

So, don’t ask me what I want – it might not be what I need. Don’t ask me what I need, because needs change, and sometimes I don’t know what I need more.

Just think of me, think of what might put a smile on my face, and let it be from your heart – that’s what matters. The best gifts I’ve ever received were the hand-made little trinkets my kids have created, so money shouldn’t be a concern – unless you’ve got it to burn, of course 😉

Whatever you do, do it with love. That’s all that matters. After all, isn’t that Who the first Christmas Gift was?

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It Is Well…Even If

I was driving in to work this morning when this song came on the radio. I began thinking of a fellow Christian blogger who is going through a very tough time, her faith wearing thin. I then prayed, but something else happened.

It was just after 6 a.m., and just as soon as “Even If” by MercyMe quit playing, it played one more time. Now, who preprogrammed that into the station’s computer, I wonder?

At that moment I began praising God from my own perspective. Tears began to build up in my eyes as I listened once again, only closer now, until gravity turned the pools to streams.

You see, I’ve got burdens, needs, mountains that need moving, and questions needing answers. All the while I’ve got a host of others who need me to help with the very same kinds of things. And what do I say when the prayers don’t get answered? What do I say when the healing doesn’t come? How do I react when everything seems to be overwhelming me, but God seems silent to my cries?

I trust Him.

I mean, Jesus loved me enough to die for me; He promised never to leave me or forsake me; so wouldn’t it stand to reason He cares what situations I face? If He cares for others, shouldn’t he care for me as well? Yes! He does!

And I will trust Him.

Even if nothing turns out the way I hope, my real Hope is Jesus. Notice, my hope is not IN Jesus; it IS Jesus.

I will trust Him.

When peace like a river attendeth my way; when sorrows  like to see billows roll;  whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well with my soul…even if.”

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Barriers to Church Growth. #5 (Honoring Self)

The following was published several years ago, but since my last post was a quote addressing the worship of Self, this is pretty applicable. 


A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

“People do works for their own honor and not the glory of God (Matthew 5:16).”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 KJV

Why do we do good works? Why do we feed the poor, shelter the homeless, tend to the elderly, etc. Do we do these things so that our Father will be glorified, or do we do them in order to get glory for ourselves?

To be Seen.

Some people do good works for the sole intention of being seen and considered especially spiritual. Jesus said that “Everything they do is for show” (Mt. 23:5 NLT). Jesus spoke of those who wanted to be seen as pious and holy by wearing boxes containing Scripture on their foreheads or arms. The bigger the box the better. All this was in an attempt to say, “I am keeping the law better than you!” (See Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

Then there are other people who do plenty of good deeds without even acknowledging God. For example,  go to any charity ball held by your local “high society” club. There you will find plenty of people who willingly give thousands to worthy causes, but smile as big as they can when the magazine photographers come around.

They may even be members of local churches and give large offerings to the building fund (as long as it’s named after them); buy the pastor a new car; or pay for a youth mission trip. “And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the [congregation].” – Matthew 23:6 NLT

To be Accepted

Some people do good works in order to be accepted by God. They give away fortunes and spend their lives doing good deeds, but not to be seen of men. They want to be seen by God and thought of as worthy of His love. The only problem is that salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” They work themselves to death in order prove their loyalty, thereby supposedly insuring a place in heaven. But the glory goes not to God, for attached to the works is an expectation of reward based on merit.

Soli Deo gloria

All glory should be to God alone. If our works are done in order to receive praise, then God is not getting the glory. If our works are meant to earn credit with God, then God is not getting the glory. If we work ourselves silly to meet the legalistic requirements placed on us by men, then God is not getting the glory. However, if out of a heart of love we do good works without expectation for reward, recognition, or acceptance, then God will receive the glory.

When all glory, honor, and praise is given to the Lord, He will draw all men unto Himself. Church growth will be unstoppable. Yet, if we expect credit for anything, then what should we expect but further decline? “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” – Isaiah 48:11 KJV

We want others to see our good works, but not for our own glory. May they “glorify [our] Father which is in heaven.”

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If We Could Only Comprehend!

This morning, as I preach from the third chapter of Ephesians, my prayer for you (and myself) will be the same as what the apostle Paul prayed…

I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19 CSB

Oh, that we might comprehend the the width, the length, the height, and the depth of God’s love through Jesus Christ! If we could only even slightly comprehend the vast, expansive spread before us, mercy and grace for every need; the never-ending, eternal, infinite promise of his love and care; the heights to which we are raised, far above the lowly, humble truth of our natural condition and state; and the the depths of Christ’s love – humble depths to which the love of God had to reach down in order to pluck us from the pit of sin… If we could only even slightly comprehend them!

Yet, through His strength (v. 16), and being rooted and grounded in His love (v. 17), it is possible! Hallelujah! Because He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according the power that works in us! (v. 20 NKJV)

This morning, and every morning, to God the Father be all glory in the church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, wherever they may be, forever and ever, “world without end” (v. 20).

And all the people said… “AMEN!!” 

 

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“Till the Storm Passes By”

A Word of Encouragement 

I was trying to think of something clever to write: either something funny or entertaining; something profound and theological; or just something encouraging as many Americans stare down the barrel of the strongest storm on record, Hurricane Irma.

That’s when the lyrics of a song came to mind, a song written many years ago by Mosie Lister entitled “Till the Storm Passes By.”

My mom and dad used to sing this song in church. I grew up singing it, especially one day when I was lying on the floor of my school bus as tornadic-like winds came through unexpectedly and trapped me inside, making me think the yellow box was going to flip.

In the words of this song there is clear sense of dread, but at the same time a sense of security and hope. Storms do come, whether they be literal meteorological events or spiritual/emotional battles; yet, there is One whom we know will hear our cries and keep us safe in the hollow of His hand.

Immediately I hear someone say, “But what about those Christians who die in storms? Did you God keep them safe?” First, what about the ones who didn’t die? Secondly, and most importantly, what about that “peace that passeth understanding”? True safety will be seen “when the long night has ended and the storms come no more,” and we stand in His presence on “that bright, peaceful shore.”

Regardless the size or consistency of the “storm,” knowing I am held fast in the hand of the One who will keep me eternally safe gives me peace. I pray that those stuck in this coming storm, and others to follow, will find that same peace in Jesus Christ.

“Till the Storm Passes By”

In the dark of the midnight,
Have I oft hid my face;
While the storm howls above me,
And there’s no hiding place;
‘Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
“Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.”

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispers,
“There is no need to try;
For there’s no end of sorrow,
There’s no hope by and by”;
But I know Thou art with me,
And tomorrow I’ll rise;
Where the storms never darken the skies.

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence.
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

– Mosie Lister

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