Summary: As Christmas comes, we think, "Maybe it’s not impossible. Maybe we really could have hearts filled with love. Maybe we really could be kind to each other, & not just once a year, but all year long." (Powerpoints available - #327)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(The Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP #327.)
TEXT: Luke 2:8-14
ILL. It's Christmas time, & Lucy comes in where Charlie Brown is standing & says, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. 'Tis the season of peace on earth & good will toward men. Therefore I suggest we forget all our differences & love one another."
Charlie Brown, whose face lights up at this, says, "That's wonderful, Lucy. I'm so glad you said that. But tell me, do we have to love each other only at this season? Why can't we love each other all year long?"
Lucy retorts, "What are you, a fanatic or something?"
A. If we really get serious about Christmas, it seems that we're branded by the world as some kind of fanatic. Yet, Christmas is supposed to be a time of "peace on earth, good will toward men."
Listen as I read some very familiar words in the New King James Version of the Bible, in Luke 2:8-14, "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
"And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, & the glory of the Lord shone around them, & they were greatly afraid.
"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
'And this will be the sign to you: You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.'
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, & on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
APPL. How wonderful our homes could be, how wonderful our lives could be, & how wonderful our world could be, if we really did put into practice the blessing of "peace on earth, good will toward men."
And as Christmas comes, we think once again, "Maybe it's not impossible. Maybe we really could have hearts filled with love. Maybe we really could be kind to each other, & not just once a year, but all year long."
B. I'm sure that most of you are well into your Christmas shopping. There may be a few procrastinators who wait until the last minute, but most of us spend time & thought in choosing just the right gift for that special person in our life. We think about their needs & wants & what might make them happy.
Then we go shopping, & make that purchase, often spending more money than we planned. We gift wrap it, & anxiously await the moment when that loved one will open our special gift. And when he or she opens the present we eagerly anticipate expressions of joy & delight.
But if there are no expressions of joy & delight, we'll be very disappointed. Because in receiving the gift, they're receiving us. Or if they reject it, they're rejecting us. At least, that's the way we feel deep down inside.
And even while we're watching the faces of others to see how they receive our gifts, others will be watching us to see how we receive their gifts. You see, giving & receiving is an important part of the Christmas season.
C. What was God's gift to us at Christmas time? I'm sure that most of you would say, "He gave His only begotten Son." And of course, you're right.
Others might say, "He gave us proof of His love." And of course, that would be right, too.
PROP. But I want to be a bit more precise than that, for in actuality, God gave us several very valuable gifts.
I. OPPORTUNITY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR SINS
#1, He gave us the opportunity for the forgiveness of our sins. Through Jesus Christ, God offers us the forgiveness of our sins.
You see, we'll never have peace with our fellow man until first we're at peace with ourselves. And we'll never be at peace with ourselves until we're at peace with God. And we'll never be at peace with God until our sins have been forgiven.
ILL. I read something unusual a few years ago. In the Eastern part of the U.S. a cookbook was recalled. Now, I've never heard of a cookbook being recalled before. I've heard of automobiles being recalled, & toasters & baby seats. But I had never before heard of a cookbook being recalled.
This cookbook was recalled because one recipe had left out an important ingredient, & the publishers of the book realized that if someone followed the directions of that recipe & left out that ingredient, that the ingredients they put together could actually blow up in their faces. So because of that hazard, the cookbook was recalled.