Summary: Hezekiah’s example and Isaiah’s promise demonstrate what can happen when we pray.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at email@example.com and request #197.)
A. A question we’ll undoubtedly hear many times between now & Dec. 25th is this, "Are you ready for Christmas?"
I suppose what is really being asked is, "Have you put up all your Christmas decorations? Have you finished your Christmas shopping? Have you mailed your Christmas cards? Have you put on your calendar all the places you’re supposed to go? Are you ready for Christmas?"
We meet ourselves coming & going, so we call it "the Christmas rush." Sometimes the Christmas season becomes very hectic, & because of that we tend to forget much of the reason for the season.
ILL. There is a rather poignant Christmas story about a little girl who watched her mother & dad getting ready for Christmas. To her, it seemed that dad was preoccupied with burdens & bundles, & mom was concerned about parties & presents, & they just had no time for her.
She felt that she was being shoved aside. In fact, it seemed to her that she was always being told, "Would you please get out of the way?"
So one night in December she knelt beside her bed & prayed this prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven, please forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us."
You see, when I ask the question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" I’m asking about more than your activities. I’m asking about your attitudes, because every once in a while I hear someone say, "I just can’t get into the Christmas spirit!" Maybe you’ve said it too.
B. With that in mind, let’s think once again about what Christmas really means. Christmas says that "God became a human being. God expressed His love by living among us, by walking with us, & talking to us." That’s what Christmas means. But what are the right attitudes we ought to have so that Christmas can really happen in our homes & in our lives?
So for a few minutes this morning let’s turn our attention to the Christmas story as recorded in Matthew 1:18-25. Please listen as I read.
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man & did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream & said, `Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, & you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: `The virgin will be with child & will give birth to a son, & they will call Him Immanuel’ which means, `God with us.’
"When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him & took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus."
PROP. I like Joseph. He doesn’t stand in the spotlight very long, & we don’t know a whole lot about his life. But Joseph can teach us a lot about attitudes - attitudes that can make Christmas real in our lives, too.
I. ACCEPT GOD’S WILL, WHATEVER IT MIGHT BE
First of all, Joseph teaches us, "Be ready to accept God’s Will, whatever it might be." Joseph was open to the will & leading of God.
A. Put yourself in his position. Joseph thought his life was pretty well planned. He was pledged to be married, which means that he & Mary had made all necessary arrangements, & the wedding ceremony was soon to take place.
Joseph knew that he would marry Mary, & that they would settle down in Nazareth. He would continue on in his carpenter business, & they would live happily together ever after.
But then Mary came to him & said, "Joseph, I am expecting a baby."
It must have hit him like a bombshell. He thought that Mary loved him as much as he loved her. But now, seemingly, she had been unfaithful to him. He knew the child was not his, & so the only conclusion he could reach was that she had been unfaithful. She had broken the bond that existed between them.