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Summary: Looking at the hope that God offers at Christmas

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Christmas Beyond Compare – Hope beyond Compare – Rom 15:7-13

Gladstone Baptist Church – 25/12/04 am

Well Happy Christmas to you all. I do hope that Christmas for you is a time of joy, peace and hope – A Christmas beyond Compare.

But you know, Christmas isn’t like that for everyone … For some it is filled with pain and regret. It is a sad time without joy, without peace and without hope. I was reading one such person’s feelings about Christmas this week

Christmas has been for me, a time of sadness and stress for as long as I can remember.

Having been brought up as a “Christian”, through Sunday School and School, I always enjoyed the real Christmas, with carols and church services.

I have vague memories of childhood Christmases with lots of food and drink and arguments and tears.

As an adult, Christmas was always a time to be brave and ‘do it for the family’ after John died. (Sadly, I don’t remember much about the Christmases I spent with him)

I remember a time when I wanted to make a donation to a worthy cause, instead of trying to think of gifts for those of us who have more than all we need. This idea was rejected.

Now it is Christmas time again, and again I have tried to do the right thing by everyone. This has resulted in tears and stress. (My fault, sorry!)

Thus I have decided to forgo Christmas this year... I will not be giving any gifts in keeping with the need I feel to disassociate myself with this obligation.

Where is Christmas?

Is it in the manger still?

Or is it in the bank?

Or maybe the department store,

With carols playing

People buying

Things that no one wants or needs?

Give them money then instead,

It will mean much more

Than peace and love and understanding…

Money is what we adore!

Not tiny babe

In yonder stall

Who came to save us all.

Who took this sacred time?

Destroyed its meaning

Made it just another scrap

Of lust and want and greed?

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,

Let’s pretend to all be jolly,

Tra la la la la, la la la la!

Not me.

For many people, Christmas has become a rat race. There is no joy in it. There is no peace in it and it certainly doesn’t bring any hope what so ever. We need to stop – de-clutter Christmas. We need to remember that the Reason for the Season is Jesus. It is not presents, Christmas sales, Decorations, food, penguins at the north pole. It is about a baby and this baby came to give us gifts that are beyond compare.

Over the last month, we’ve been looking in the night services at a couple of gifts that Jesus came to give us.

1) We have looked at the gift of Peace that Jesus brought us. Peace beyond Compare. Peace that comes from having a relationship with God. It is a peace that can exist regardless of all the other problems and hassles we are having in this life.

2) We have looked at the gift of Joy that Jesus brought us. Joy beyond Compare. Too many of us live a life that is joyless. We seek joy, but the Joy that God offers doesn’t need to be found – it is ours to own now and comes straight from God.

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If you want to find out more about these 2 gifts, I encourage you to borrow or order the tapes or video.

Today, I want to focus a third gift that Jesus brings us. Hope. HOPE beyond compare. Without hope, we would all die. Life would not be worth living for if had no hope.

There was an interesting Scientific experiment conducted a while back. A group of behavioral Scientists put some Wharf Rats in a tank of water, and observed them to see how long they would survive before

drowning - The average time was 17 minutes.

Then, they repeated the experiment, but this time they "rescued" the rats just before the point of drowning, dried them off and returned them to their cages.... fed them, and let them play for a few days, and repeated the drowning experiment. - This time, the average survival time for these rats increased from 17 minutes to 36 hours!

The scientists explained that phenomenon by pointing out that the second time around, the rats had HOPE. They believed that they could survive this, because they had done so before. "They were able to survive because the had been SAVED".

Our society offers up to us many sources of hope – many offers of salvation. It tells us that life will be better if only we can catch Osama Bin Laden and end terrorism. Hope for many comes when the economy is looking healthy – when interest rates come down and the share market goes up. For others, hope is when and if they ever get well. We hope for a better life and so we pursue something hoping it will bring joy and peace into our lives - a new job, a better location, a different doctor, a different church, or no church, better behaved children, a better spouse.

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