Summary: A sermon about materialism.

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Matthew 25:31-46

“Christmas Is Not Your Birthday: Jesus’ Wish List”

(based on Mike Slaughter's Book)

I remember being about Mary Ellen’s age and trying to remember what I had given my sister Lisa the previous Christmas.

Not able to recall, I went and asked her.

Lisa’s response?

“I don’t remember, but I probably didn’t like it.”

Do you struggle to come up with the perfect gift each Christmas for the special people in your life?

It can be tough, but here’s an even more important question: “What do you give Jesus on His birthday?”

This question brings us back to the focus of this Sermon Series: “Christmas Is Not Our Birthday! It is Jesus’ birthday.”

So, how can we change the focus of Christmas from materialistic self-indulgence to giving Jesus what He wants on His birthday?

How can we make it less about us and more about Jesus?

What can we possibly give the Lord of the universe?

Thankfully, Jesus made His “wish list” unquestionably clear in our Gospel Lesson for this morning.

“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

When Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, they were probably absolutely befuddled.

For over two years, they had been with Jesus virtually 24/7, and had never seen Jesus in any of these situations.

But then Jesus clarified what He meant: “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers [and sisters] of mine, you did for me.”

In other words, we can’t separate our relationship with God from our responsibility for other people.

And what we do or don’t do for other people—we do it or don’t do it for Jesus.

In 1st John we are told that evidence of our salvation involves helping other people with their physical needs: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love [one another]. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

And, “If anyone has material possessions and sees [a brother or a sister] in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

Dear children, let us…love…with actions and truth.”

We serve God when we serve others.

We give to Jesus when we sacrifice of our time, talents, and money to meet the needs of others in Jesus’ name!

Even during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He wanted His followers to know that they were responsible for feeding the hungry in their midst.

Think about the famous “feeding of the 5,000.”

The disciples had wanted to send the crowds away, but Jesus said to them: “You give them something to eat.”

Pretty amazing.

God creates miracles through the resources that you and I hold in our hands…

….Moses’ staff, David’s five smooth stones, the widow’s oil, six water jars at a wedding reception, another widow’s two small coins, and a boy’s lunch of five pieces of bread and two small sardines!!!

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