Series: Turn on the Light!!!
Christmas Sunday / December 23rd 2007
Intro: Merry Christmas!!!
What are you getting for Christmas!? Wow. That’s what this is all about isn’t?
Christmas is actually about a gift.
On the last day of school before Christmas break, children were bringing gifts to their teacher. The florist’s son brought the teacher a bouquet. The candy storeowner’s son brought the teacher a pretty box of candy. Then the liquor storeowner’s son brought a big, heavy box. The teacher lifted it up and noticed that it was leaking a bit. She touched a drop of liquid with her finger and tasted it. “Is it wine?’ she guessed. “No” said the boy. She tasted another drop, “Champagne?” “No,” said the little boy. “It’s a puppy!”
Not every gift should be put into a box.
Christmas is about gifts!
God gives us the best gift! ‘…the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23)
Before all the last minute shopping traffic, there was a hectic census.
Before all the crowed shopping malls, there was a packed full little town called Bethlehem.
Before the electric meters spun uncontrollable from powering thousands of Christmas lights, there was a lone bright shining star leading the undistracted to see the best present of all; the Christ in Christmas.
Many people think about God in a distant, separated and dispassionate way. What a shame. Truth is God is crazy about you! He loves you! He is passionate about you. And when you realize just how amazing that truly is, you will be passionate about Him too!!!
1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
I. God knows what you need
a. We live in a pretty harsh world.
It’s like that Grandma who could not decide what to buy for her three grandchildren. She decided to simply put a check for $50 in each card with the message ‘Buy your own gift’. That’s pretty generous of her, you know green goes with everything. She dropped the cards, and then to her surprise the woman found the three checks under some newspapers – she had omitted to put them in the cards.
Her three grandchildren were very perplexed to receive a card, each with the startling message “BUY YOUR OWN GIFT”.
• We live in a “buy your own gift” kind of world. Don’t we? Other than maybe your family, and maybe some of your friends, you can pretty much count on making your own way.
• This becomes especially critical if your goal in life is Heaven. None of us have that kind of collateral!!!
• But God knows what you need and He loves you enough to see you get what you need.
1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
b. As a Child of God you HAVE overcome the world!!!
• Have = (perfect tense) Describes an action which is viewed as having been
completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated.
• Overcome = to conquer; to carry off the victory, come off victorious, to prevail.
• I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is certain.
This is the “Rocky” principle. He’s always the underdog (Too short, too old, too ____!!!) No matter how badly he was beaten, he always wins the match. All he has to do is get back up and fight.
God always knows exactly what you need. He is greater than any evil coming against you.
II. God knows where to hide your presents
I have to make a confession. When my sister Amy and I were kids we used to sneak and carefully lift the tape on our Christmas presents so we could see what they were. Then we’d carefully rewrap them and then act surprised on Christmas morning.
Really, I’m not talking about God hiding your presents from you. Rather, He hides them IN You!!!
“…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”
Don’t pass over this point!!! This is the key to something great in your life.
a. Emmanuel = “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
• This all by it’s self is AWESOME
• Think of it: “God in the flesh (How incredible) God with us (What an honor)
b. Something even greater than Emmanuel has happened!!!
• How could something greater than Jesus walking and talking and eating and visiting directly with us ever come?
• No more pilgrimages, no more trips to inquire of the priest. None of it. Christ in you the hope of Glory!!!
• Never alone / Always enough
c. Live with a burning passion for knowing God
• This is where the title of my message today comes in.
• I’m talking about a burning passion to know God more, to live in the FULLNESS of this REALITY as Christians.
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
• You know God.
There are a lot of privileges in life for those who know the right people. They have influence.
Who has more influence than God; More connections; more blessings?
Who can open the doors he shuts and close the doors he opens? NO ONE.
But “Knowing God” is so much more than privilege. (Privilege has to do with power and authority) God has all of that, but they are not the root, of who God is, read verse 8:
8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
• Realize: All the power in the world won’t settle your soul.
• All the authority in the world won’t make you sleep better or make you excited to wake up.
• No, they are EMPTY without LOVE.
When you have both, you have everything you need. God’s love and His power.
Your dog may love you and that provides company. But he isn’t powerful.
Rick and Louise have the cutest little miniature wiener dog named Coney. He is very loving and affectionate. But he is NOT powerful. Even if he thinks he is.
When God loves you; he brings his power and authority too.
• Love is Critical. You can’t force love, you can’t coerce love. You can’t demand it.
• You can only accept it (Receive it) and then give it away.
9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
• Made complete (Know fully, even as I am fully known.)
• Know and rely on (to remove all doubt and suspicion; thoroughly convinced.)
• God loves you. You Belong. He sets a place at the table for you. He leaves the light on for you. He misses you when you’re not around. He Loves you.
• Knowing this changes you. It changes your composition and your out-look.
• It changes how you hold your head (Humble confidence)
• It changes how you treat other people.
16b Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19We love because he first loved us.
III. God’s gift changes your life.
In the run-up to Christmas, we do lots of tidying, preparing and cleaning – sprucing up our homes, our clothes, even our bodies. Many of us will have a haircut or even go for a manicure to help us look and feel better.
a. Jesus is concerned with what’s on the inside.
• This changes us from the inside out, transforming our attitudes and actions.
• God is concerned with the health of your heart.
Like a physical heart can be strengthened with exercise so can our spiritual hearts be. The physical heart draws in blood and then pumps is back out again. Our spiritual hearts (the one that really matters) draws in love and pumps it out too.
“…in this world we are like him.”
If it were not so, John would not have said.
b. Confidence on Judgment Day means confidence now!
• Complete freedom from Fear.
• Fear can “come on” you at any time. But Love drives it out.
• YOU ARE LOVED / YOU BELONG TO GOD / YOU BELONG WITH GOD!
• You have the joy of learning more about his Love. To truly allow the intensity of love to burn hotter and brighter.
• This is Real Life; the Complete Life; this is the life that burns with passion!
• God gave Emmanuel to the world. But for those who open the gift and accept the gift (There are plenty of people who open the package and are think, “Gee thanks for nothing; is there a gift receipt for this?”)
• For those who wake up with a sense of wonder, and rush to see and open the gift and they accept the gift! For them Jesus is so much more than Emmanuel “God with us.” He truly becomes Christ in us the hope of Glory.
What box can contain such a gift?
What bow and ribbon can adorn it?
What wrapping paper can do the gift justice?
God has chosen you to be the container for such a gift!
• What present could someone give you that when you opened the box the contents spoke so loudly and clearly that you knew an overwhelming sense of Love?
• What kind of price tag can you put on having no fear in your life?
• What price could be set for having your heart at complete rest and peace?
• What would you give to gain such a blessing
• God set the price and paid the price by giving His only Son.
In 1867 Phillips Brook’s a verse that latter became to last verse to ‘O little town of Bethlehem.’ Listen:
‘O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to me, I pray;
I turn from sin, please enter in, be born in me today,
I’ve heard the Christmas message, the great glad tidings tell;
Christ come to me, abide with me, O Lord Emmanuel!’ Amen.
Is that your prayer today?