Sermons

Summary: We need to get sober for Christmas. We need to admit Jesus came to save sinners like us. He didn’t come just for people like drug dealers and dead beat parents. He came for mass murders and terrorists as well as nice people like you and me.

Response Goal: Individuals prompted by the Holy Spirit will pray the last verses of Psalm 139.

REPENTANCE POINT {paradigm shifts or changes in our thinking}: We need to get sober for Christmas. We need to admit Jesus came to save sinners like us. He didn’t come just for people like drug dealer and dead beat parents. He came for mass murders and terrorists as well as nice people like you and me.

PATTERN: INDUCTIVE Question - Answer

IDEAS for Bible Readings, Prayers or Songs

James 4:4-10

Hosea 14:1-9

When we drive long distances, as some of us just did for Thanksgiving, it is very easy to be lulled into a state of preoccupied semi-consciousness. You know what I’m talking about. You are driving down the freeway, and your mind is a hundred miles away. You’re thinking about all kinds of things. You’re thinking about the time you just spent with your family and friends. You’re thinking about the conversations you had, things they said that made you mad, things they said that made you laugh. You’re thinking about how much you ate and how long it’s going to take you to fit back into your clothes. In fact, you are so lost in thought that it takes you a while to realize that there is a highway patrol car coming up fast behind you -- and the lights are flashing! What happens?

Immediately your mind snaps back into the present. Your heart starts pounding. Your foot automatically goes over to the brakes to release the cruise control. Your eyes are riveted on your speedometer and then to your mirror. Every nerve in your body is wired for action. You are completely alert. Your attention is focused outward.

How so you feel when the officer passes you and zips on down the road? Words cannot describe the relief and gratitude you feel, right? That is what you might call a sobering experience.

So often we drive down the road but lost in a daze of thought until a rock hits the windshield or the truck in front of us loses its tire. All of a sudden, we’re jarred to complete attention. We straighten up, and take whatever corrective action is necessary. Our focus goes completely outward.

Friends, that is exactly what God has in mind to prepare us for the experience of Christmas. We need to get sober for Christmas. We must snap to attention in order to prepare the way. We need a waking up, a coming to complete awareness. As the Old Testament prophet Isaiah put it, we need to straighten up and fly right in order to "see the salvation of God."

Essentially that is what is happening when the people go to hear John the Baptist out in the wilderness. That’s exactly what the words of John the Baptist accomplish.

Movement ONE

You’ve heard about preachers who preach fire and brimstone. Well, John the Baptist certainly was one of the best. He came proclaiming "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." Through the call to baptism he was saying: "You need to be cleansed from sin." The emphasis was repentance: "You need to turn from preoccupation with ourselves to an outward alert focus on God."

So, with the sobering affect of the highway patrol’s lights behind us, John tells the people that there is an axe against their necks, that the fire of God’s wrath is ready to fall, and that they better straighten up and fly right.

John is using this harsh judgment language in order to say, "Hey! Wake up!" He’s giving them an absolutely necessary call so that they can be ready for the visitation of God.

The crowds who took him seriously were all ears. They were completely sobered. They were wired for action. And they were begging him, asking him, "What should we do? If the presence of God is just round the corner, how do we get ready?"

That, my friends, is the question of Advent. During Advent, we ask the question: What should we do to get ready?

Movement TWO

Perhaps you’re wondering, "What is Advent?" Good question.

Advent is a time in the church’s life that is set apart to prepare us for the significance of Christmas.

Perhaps the best word to describe this time of preparation is the word humility -- recognizing that we really have been lost in our own thoughts. Humility -- recognizing that we really have been a million miles away from God’s presence and purposes in our lives.

Have you heard the story about a pastor who was officiating at a funeral? When he was done, he was asked to lead the funeral procession as it made its way to the cemetery. So he got into his car, and he started driving at the head of the funeral procession. He flipped on his radio and became preoccupied, lost in thought; he forgot where he was going. About that time, he passed a K-Mart and thought about something he needed to pick up.

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