Summary: A message to encourage followers of Jesus to live beyond the glitter and live like "Christmas" all year long.
Making the Most of the Holiday Opportunities
November 27, 2005
Well, here we are, now "officially" into the Christmas season. Although judging by what I’ve seen in the stores, I’d have guessed that the season actually began just after Labor Day.
Pictures in the newspapers showed people rushing into the stores early Friday morning. Some of the people were blurry because they were running too fast for the shutter speed of the camera. Did you see that?
But I have a question: Why was the Six Million Dollar Man supposed to be so fast, but he could be filmed in slow motion? I don’t get it... But I digress.
As I was praying and thinking about what to share today, I got to thinking: how can Christians stand out from the crowd during these busy weeks filled with shopping and fretting about whether or not your child’s going to like the present you got them?
Because I’m of the opinion that followers of Jesus should stand out from the crowd anytime, just in the way they look at and deal with life.
But what about Christmas in particular? What can we do to take the focus off the presents, as wonderful as all that is, and put it on the hope we have in Christ?
Well, I want to take a look at three ways that I found for us to do that.
Today we’re going to look at a very famous Christmas Scripture passage: Ephesians 5:15-20.
Let’s look at it together, shall we? Page 829 of the Bibles in the seats -
15 Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m just sure that when we read that, thoughts of holly and mistletoe, presents, and Jim Nabors Christmas albums began flooding your memories, right? I know, me too.
That passage just ranks right up there with Joseph and Mary finding no room in the inn, Jesus in the manger, and the shepherds watching their flocks by night, doesn’t it?
Makes you just want to break out the nativity set right now!
Okay, maybe not, but I think it is applicable to how followers of Jesus can be great examples of what it really means to live for Jesus during the Christmas season.
I want us to look at these three ways to make the most of the opportunities to shine for Jesus in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday.
And it’s my hope that you’ll walk out of here today determined to reflect the hope of Christ as you go through the next few weeks.
1. Live like you know the whole story.
There is a very important word in this passage. It’s in verse 15, and the word is "then."
Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise...
What does the "then" refer to? It refers to what God is saying through Paul in the preceding verses, and in particular, verses 8-10 -
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
Most people in our area know the background of Christmas, and are willing to give lip-service to Jesus. They often make reference to the "Christmas spirit," but if hard-pressed, I don’t think they can define it past it meaning that we should be willing to give.
But as Christians, we’re supposed to know "the rest of the story." We were once in darkness, but because of Jesus and what he came to earth to accomplish, we now live in light.
And because of that, there should be a difference in how we go about preparing for and celebrating the holiday.
Our preparation and celebrations should reflect goodness, righteousness, and truth, which pleases God, rather than the maniacal scrambles for the latest gadgets and the buying into of materialism that really defines how most people view Christmas.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like presents as much as anybody, and I like giving presents too.
(Call my daughter Olivia to the platform). Yesterday was Olivia’s birthday. How old are you again? 70? 17? 7?
Did you enjoy your birthday? Did you enjoy the gifts you got? I’m guessing you REALLY enjoyed the DVD that Daddy got for you, huh?