Isn’t it amazing what Christmas has become? How the sweet calm picture of the birth of one named Jesus has become so much about rush, money, and envy.
ILL: Listen to this parody of the Christmas season that I read this past week:
"And there were in the same country children keeping watch over there stockings by the fireplace. And lo! And was said unto them `Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that is for all people who can afford them.
For there will be given great feasts of turkey, dressing and cake; and many presents; and this shall be a sign unto you, ye shall find the presents, wrapped in bright paper, lying beneath a tree adorned with tinsel, colored balls and lights.
And suddenly, there will be with you a multitude of relatives and friends, praising you and saying, `thank you so much, it was just what I wanted’ And it shall come to pass as the friends and relatives have gone their away to their own homes, the parents shall say to one another, What a mess to clean up! I’m tired, let’s go to bed and pick it up tomorrow. Thank goodness, Christmas only comes once a year!’ And they go with haste to their cold bed and find their desired rest."
SUM: Year after year, Christmas comes around and yet the majority of people never give a second thought to the only reason we have Christmas to begin with. They don’t understand that without Christ their Christmas is just mas.
God, because He loved the world so much: came into the world, put on human flesh, and he even started out the same way you and I did, >>> yet far too many people don’t ever take the time to go and see this king -- to bow down and worship him.
A. COUNTDOWN STARTED WELL BEFORE THANKSGIVING!
1. Excitement of the Lights and the Trees
2 But also the Pain of so busy – Rushing everywhere – Anger driving!
3. Stores so busy and full!
B. THE SEASON OF CHRISTMAS – WELL IT’S HERE!
1. Adults, what does it represent to you?
a. Giving/Receiving; Cooking/Eating;
b. Robbing Peter to keep up with the Jones/then struggling to pay
c. Those great/awesome family get togethers! - ?
2. To Children, Christmas is yet all together a larger difference.
a. To some, it’s about gifts – a time other than birthday but here everyone gets!
b. To some – a Visit from old Santa Claus.
“he knows if you’ve been good or bad; “so you better watch out – I’m telling you why! S.C. is coming to town”
c. So What IS Christmas to you and What Will It BE?
C. CHRISTMAS IS HERE!
1. Yes, Get Ready for and Enjoy Christmas
2. But stay in focus – Remember the 1st Gift – Jesus
3. Remember the home He is building right now based on what you and I give Him
D. 3 REMINDERS AS WE ENTER THIS SEASON!
1. He Will Come As A King
2. When We Least Expect Him
3. His Gifts Will Never Wear Out
FOCAL PASSAGE IS MATTHEW 24:30-44
I. HE WILL COME AS A KING
Jesus came the first time as a baby. In a dirty, dusty, manger that was fit for animals. He wasn’t born or royalty but into a peasants family surrounding rumors of misconduct.
They Expected a King – He came as a Servant. I don’t know that we fully grasp what He laid aside for you and I. You talk about Christmas? You talk about giving?
Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
That’s how He came the 1st Time – But not this time.
A. READ MATT. 24:30-31
That doesn’t sound like life today does it!
1. Anyone can see that what is promised by God is NOT what is today.
2. Are you satisfied with life? Is this all there is? NO WAY!
3. In that day, when Jesus comes as a King, the Lion will lie down with the Lamb, nation will no longer engage in war against nation.
Revelation 21:4 (NIV) 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
B. He’s Coming To Town!
1. He’s Coming To Town – AGAIN! But He won’t be from the North Pole and riding on a sleigh. He won’t even be coming as a baby.
2. The One I celebrate this morning will be Coming from heaven and arriving on the clouds in the sky rather than being pulled by any reindeer!
3. THAT’S WHO WE CELEBRATE THIS SEASON!
Regardless of where you are in life – That’s to Celebrate! He’s Coming!
4. That’s what our Rushing Should Be Preparing Us For!
II. HE WILL COME “WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT HIM”
You and I probably have accepted and settled that He will come. But When Will He Come?
We are on a schedule with Christmas – if we don’t buy everyone’s gifts by 12/25, we will let someone down. And I guess if we really knew exactly when Jesus was coming well, we would know exactly how long we would have to prepare our gifts (the heavenly treasures we are building and preparing).
But the problem is that all we know is that we won’t know!
READ MATT 24:36-44
1. Vs. 36 – “No one knows” - I don’t care what you read or what you think.
2. Vs. 39 – “took them all away” – Not only do you not know when Jesus is coming, you don’t know when your time is being called!
3. Vs. 43 – “if the owner knew… he would have kept watch” – HEAR ME _ YOU KNOW! Maybe not when, but you know He is – So are We – Are YOU Ready?
4. Vs. 40 – “one taken – other left” - No more time for you - No more time to warn family and friends.
5. Vs. 42 – “THEREFORE KEEP WATCH” – Anticipate, expect, look for.
SUM: What time would that be for you? Just after you finished buying all those gifts for those you love? When you have finally gotten that position, car, house that you have given all up for? Teenagers, when you have given everything up to be the most popular in school? When would that be for you?
1 Thess. 5:2 “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night”
When Will That Be for You?
III. HIS GIFTS NEVER WEAR OUT!
Jesus will come, not as a servant, but as a King. Jesus will not only come, but He promises that it will be when you do not expect Him. And finally, don’t allow the season to hide the beauty of the gifts that He has given to you!
- Every gift you give this holiday will wear out, - a temporary period of time.
- But the gifts that He has and will give you will never wear out!
READ JAMES 1:16-18
“every good and perfect gift is from above” – not on earth.
A. Consider the Gifts of the World!
a. Think about the gifts given here – Material possessions of wealth, status, career, homes, cars. These treasures do not last!
b. (as crazy as this is) Even things like the bad days we have, the storms we go through, - you can’ take those either – they are just temporary (thank God)
B. Consider the Gifts of the Father
a. Grace – A gift of Eternal Life
b. Holy Spirit – Eternal presence of the Father.
c. Fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control –
d. Again back to what we read in Rev – “no more tears, no more death, mourning, crying or pain”.
e. How does your Christmas stack up to that?
1. Stay in Focus – Allow this season to teach you and others about real giving. Giving that prepares your home in heaven – Gifts stored in the heavenly warehouse!
2. Rather than focusing so much on how much or is it good enough – Show an act of love to someone; Forgive one that is not expecting it; Carry someone a meal;
1. He’s Coming To Town!
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that He is coming to town. Picture that moment. They won’t question Him this time! No Mistaking Him. King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I don’t know much, but there is one thing I do know – He is coming to town.
2. When I Least Expect Him
I wonder when it will be? When do you think? That least expect Him – That really makes you wonder doesn’t it.
3. His Gifts Never Wear Out
When He comes, He’s going to want to know what I’ve done with the gifts He gave to me.
How I’ve used them to prepare for eternity? That that won’t burn in the fire but will stand the test.
Matthew 6:20 (NIV)
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
ILL: FINALLY CHRISTMAS
Senator John McCain of Arizona was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. He was shot down and held as a prisoner of war in Hanoi for 5 ½ years, 1967-1973, spending much of it in solitary confinement.
John McCain said this, “When I was being mistreated by the North Vietnamese, many times I found myself asking to live just one more minute rather than one more hour or one more day. And I know I was able to hang on longer as a prisoner of war because of the spiritual help that I received through prayer.”
“At Christmas, I was the room chaplain, not because of my excessive virtue, but because I knew all the prayers that went with a church service, since I had been in a boarding school and was an Episcopalian. We asked for a Bible, and the Vietnamese said they didn’t have any. Later we learned that thousands of Bibles had been sent to us.”
“Four days before Christmas, I was told that I could copy prayers and stories from the only Bible the Vietnamese had available…Our service consisted of a biblical passage read by me, followed by an appropriate song by the choir. I talked about the birth of Christ and the choir sang, ‘Silent Night.’”
“I looked around the room and there were tears in those men’s eyes. They weren’t tears of anger or fright or sorrow or bitterness or even longing for home. They were tears of joy that, for the first time in seven years for some of them there was a celebration of Christmas together shown by their love for each other”.
Now That’s Real Christmas!
Let your Christmas be about Love, Joy, Peace, Gentleness – the gifts that prepare you for the King!