Summary: Have in your heart the meaning of the day
There is a lot of pressure on people today. There’s a lot of pressure that this day, Christmas eve, and tomorrow, that they be perfect days. I think most people have a picture in their mind of what they would like their Christmas eve and Christmas day to be like. You have your schedule all set, beginning with Church this morning. Then you may go out to lunch with some family, go pick up some last minute gifts, cook something, come back here for the service tonight, maybe go to some party, or family or home. You can see each scene in your mind; feel each feeling; smell the smells.
Those kind of expectations put a lot of pressure on the day. The perfect Christmas eve often has frustrations trying to get those last minute items in high-blood-pressure shopping malls. Many people, when they get together with their families, simply renew old habits of fighting, bickering and frustrating each other. And, for some people, Christmas is the hardest time of year. You may miss someone even more – feel lonelier or more depressed than ever.
No matter what may be going on, though, here’s how to have the perfect Christmas eve: live the meaning of the day. Fulfillment always carries with it a purpose. If our lives are meeting their deep-seated purpose, then there is fulfillment. If we have within our hearts the meaning of the day, that is the road to the perfect Christmas.
Many people have different ideas on what the meaning of Christmas is. For most of our culture, it is a nice time of year when we get off of work, out of school, and follow our cultural and family traditions. And we hear different phrases for what Christmas is all about: “Giving—isn’t that what Christmas is all about?" Or, "Helping the unfortunate—that’s what Christmas is all about" Or, "Being with family—that is really what Christmas is all about?"
Those are all wonderful things. Holidays, Santa Claus, family. That, to our culture, is what Christmas is all about. If you are more cynical, you may think that it is just about a good retail season. Our economy is dependent upon the frenzied, frazzled shopper – buying more, spending more, getting more – just the right gift. Somehow, if we have all this just right, we’ll have happiness and peace and joy and good will towards all men. We’ll appreciate our lives and each other more.
Now, that is a very good thing. But that is not what Christmas is all about. The Grinch is big this year. Let me steal a few lines from him:
Every Who Down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, was singing! Without any presents at all!
He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming at all!
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
Maybe Christmas, He thought, doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas...Perhaps...means a little bit more!
Today, I’m going to focus on one scripture twice, now and tonight. This morning I want to focus on the meaning of Christmas by looking at what God gives us. In the book of Micah, the prophet foretold Bethlehem as the birth place of the Messiah. He said...
(v. 2-3) But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel,
This is a reference to Christmas. He’s saying that Christ would be born in Bethlehem. He goes on to say...
(v. 4-5) He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.
These two simple verses teach us what Christmas is all about. They tell us why Jesus came into the world, and what he expected to accomplish here.
Micah says that Jesus came to be a shepherd to his flock. He came to take care of us. To lead us. To protect us. To save us. He came to be our shepherd. It gives us three ways he wants to be your shepherd. First of all...
1. He Gives You Strength.
(v. 4) He will stand and shepherd in the strength of the Lord.
Christmas is about this: you don’t have to live life in your own strength. You don’t have to handle it on your own. God doesn’t help those who help themselves. You have help. You can turn to God for strength, and he will give it to you.
While attempting to rescue a fellow soldier, Bob Wieland lost both his legs in Vietnam. He had dreamed of being a professional baseball player after the war, but that dream was gone forever. Many men in this situation are overcome with bitterness, but Bob wasn’t. He said, "I lost my legs, not my heart", and he became a great athlete. He walks on his hands now, and has completed a three year Walk Across America. He has participated in the Race Across America on a custom-made bicycle, and in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. He can bench press an amazing 507 pounds. He said that he learned to cast all his cares on Jesus (1 Peter 5:7), and he learned how "the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength." (1 Corinthians 1:25) In his words, "I do the best I can to apply the Word of God to my life, because I know it works."