Summary: God’s favor is not exclusive. God doesn’t play favorites, but offers His mercy to all who will receive Him. Let’s look at some thoughts about God’s favor, His good will toward men.
Christmas for Everybody!
Luke 2:7-14 7 and she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Intro: Many of you have read or watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. The Grinch hated Christmas and he tried to make it go away. Let’s watch a little clip of the last part of the movie. [Play clip]
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
-Most of us would be quick to agree (at least in theory), Christmas does mean a whole lot more than what comes from a store. The word Christmas literally means Christ’s Mass (coined in A.D. 1038), and carries a very detailed history going as far back in church history as the 2nd century. There is little evidence to suggest that the first century church celebrated the birth of Christ as a feast day or festival, although the virgin birth of Jesus was an important part of their creed and doctrine. Christians have viewed Christmas in various ways from all extremes. Some outright reject Christmas calling it a pagan holiday, while others insist that Jesus was conceived during the Spring Equinox (March 25- 9 months prior to the Winter Solstice- Dec. 25). Others suggest that early Christians utilized the culture in which they lived to introduce the Savior of the world to the pagans around them. The winter solstice was referred to by John Chrysostom, an early Church Father. He said, "They call it the 'Birthday of the Unconquered'. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .?"
-I’m not here as some kind of final authority on how or if you should celebrate Christmas. What I’d like to do today as we look at what we call the Christmas story, is to remind us that God has offered us His kindness. Goodwill or favor is defined as friendly or kind regard; good will; approval; liking; acceptance. When God’s favor rests on someone, they are accepted by Him and are free to become His friend. Rather than painting a picture of an angry, brooding God, the Christmas story reminds us that God actually likes us and wants what is best for us. And perhaps equally important, I’d like us to realize that God’s favor is not exclusive. God doesn’t play favorites, but offers His mercy to all who will receive Him. Let’s look at some thoughts about God’s favor, His good will toward men.
I. The Good News is for all the people (10-12)
Luke 2:10-12 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
-Instead of fear of God’s anger and judgment, the news that God wants us to be friends with Him is good news indeed! The angel brought good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
-Is God’s favor available to all people? To the rich? Upper class? Middle class? Blue collar? White collar? Poor? To the down and outers? To sinners? To people living in immorality? To people addicted to drugs or alcohol? To people who are suffering from depression? To people who have been tossed aside and feel worthless?
-God says to the person who comes to the end of himself or herself: I accept you. I like you. I want to help you. I have sent you Someone who can help you.