Summary: May we have the Spirit of Christmas, which is Peace; the gladness of Christmas, which is hope; and the heart of Christmas, which is Love.
Sermon for 12/15/2002
Peace, Hope, and Love
Show the congregation the Christmas card from Marie Vencill.
A. Christmas cards.
B. We are sending out a Christmas letter.
Thesis: May we have the Spirit of Christmas, which is Peace; the gladness of Christmas, which is hope; and the heart of Christmas, which is Love.
A. Spirit of Christmas, Peace
1. Luke 2:8-14
Gregory Koukl- In the past few years I’ve had some difficulty getting into the spirit of Christmas. Now that I think about it, when I say the past few years I guess I mean the past 20 years or so. I guess my whole adult life I’ve struggled with this and I’ve wondered why. Maybe you have the same difficulty. Even mentioning the phrase "the spirit of Christmas" raises a few issues for me. It’s usually uttered in the context of criticizing the excesses of the holiday season. Christmas season used to start just after Thanksgiving in the good old days. Now it seems like Thanksgiving itself has been lost all together, swallowed up by an ever expanding Christmas commercial season that devours now almost a quarter of our calendar year. That’s pretty pathetic, in a way. People observe that and say, gee whatever happened to the true spirit of Christmas. Or they mourn the loss of the true meaning of Christmas. To talk about the true meaning of Christmas and not focus on Jesus, to talk about giving without talking about Jesus, to talk about loving without talking about Jesus, to talk about good will towards men and not talk about Jesus is to admire the aroma and ignore the meal. If I can turn a literary reference on its side a bit, it’s the clothes without the Emperor. In many ways even the more exalted ways of understanding Christmas as peace and goodwill and kindness and charity and love and giving and all of that are merely the clothes without the Emperor. What that does is reduce Christmas to packages. Beautifully wrapped packages, beautifully ribboned, but with nothing inside them
2. (Mat 10:34 NIV) "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
3. (John 14:27 NIV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
4. (John 16:33 NIV) "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
5. (Rom 5:1 NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,(Rom 5:2 NIV) through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
6. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day- In despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong, and mocks the song Of peace on earth, goodwill to men. Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
B. Gladness of Christmas, Hope
1. (Acts 2:46 NIV) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
2. (Rom 8:19 NIV) The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.(Rom 8:20 NIV) For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope(Rom 8:21 NIV) that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.(Rom 8:22 NIV) We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.(Rom 8:23 NIV) Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.(Rom 8:24 NIV) For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?(Rom 8:25 NIV) But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
3. Over a hundred years ago a 16 year old lad was singing happily at his work on his father’s fishing boat. Some time before, he had become a Christian. He loved to sing of God and Jesus’ precious love. Now, he was singing: “I’ve anchored my soul in the haven of rest, I’ll sail the wide seas no more; The tempest may sweep O’er the wild stormy deep; In Jesus I’m safe evermore.” Just as he finished singing the last line, “In Jesus I’m safe evermore,” a heavy sail swung round, knocking him overboard, and he disappeared without a trace beneath the water. After searching in vain, the father, sad at heart, turned the vessel round and headed back to the port where the family was staying for the summer months. The poor mother was grief-stricken. Although the family members were filled with sorrow, their hearts were comforted by his last words. They did not sorrow as those who have no hope; the Word of God assures them that He will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus at the coming of the Lord Jesus for His own. What is your hope? If on the things of this life only, death ends all that. Have you fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us, which we have as an anchor for the soul? Have you trusted and been obedient to the finished work of Jesus on the cross? Oh! Lay hold of this blessed hope so that you too can sing, “In Jesus I’m safe evermore.”