Summary: Part of the Christmas Wonder PowerPak.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP #327.)
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 of the year? 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 King James Version of the Bible, found in Luke 2:8-14, "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, & the glory of the Lord shone round about them: & they were sore afraid.
"And the angel said unto them, `Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, & 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 us have begun our Christmas shopping. There may be a few procrastinators who wait until almost the last minute, but most of us spend a great deal of 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 box, & looks at our gift, we eagerly anticipate expressions of joy & delight.
But if there are no expressions of joy & delight, we’ll be most disappointed, won’t we? 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, isn’t it?
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 evidence of His love." And of course, that would be right, too.
PROP. But I want to be a bit more specific than that, for in actuality, God gave us several very valuable gifts.
I. HE GAVE US THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR SINS
#1, He gave us the opportunity for the forgiveness of our sins. In Jesus Christ, God gave us the opportunity for 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 can never really be at peace with ourselves until we’re at peace with God. And we can never be at peace with God until our sins have been forgiven.
ILL. I heard 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.