WHAT REACTION DO WE HAVE TO THE CHRISTMAS STORY?
How do we respond to God coming to us?
Washington, DC -- In December of 1944, General George S. Patton summoned his Third Army Chaplain into his office and asked him to write out a prayer for good weather. Patton’s ground troops had been hampered by rains and fog so dense that combat soldiers could see only a few feet ahead of them. Tanks were becoming mired in the mud and the air force could not see enemy targets. The Nazis were poised to win a major victory against American forces. Army Chaplain Msgr. James O’Neill eagerly took on the challenge of writing a prayer for good weather that day. What has come to be known as the "Patton Prayer," goes like this:
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations."
Patton quickly approved this prayer, and he ordered 250,000 copies to be printed on cards and distributed to every soldier in the Third Army. The prayer cards were safely distributed by December 14. On December 16th, the Nazi broke through American lines and appeared to be headed for victory. Yet on December 20, less than a week after the prayer cards were handed out, the weather cleared and the fog dissipated. For more than a week--Christmas week--thousands of American planes flew bombing missions against Nazi positions. The tide of battle was turned!
When General Patton was discussing the importance of prayer with Chaplain O’Neill, he told him that military operations depend upon plans, hard work, and prayer. But, noted Patton, "…between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything. That’s where prayer comes in."
In December of 1944, God answered the prayers of hundreds of thousands of soldiers as they faced fog, rain, and an evil Nazi war machine. Prayer changes things!
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this Christmas season, all Americans should give thanks for those soldiers who fought--and many who died--during that bitter winter in France. And we should all thank God that He chose to answer General Patton’s weather prayer.
THREE RESPONSES TO THE CHRISTMAS STORY AS GIVEN IN THE BIBLE;
I. THERE WAS A KING WHO WAS TROUBLED. Matthew 2:3 “When King Herod and all Jerusalem heard about this, they became troubled, uneasy.”
A. Herod when he heard there was a new king he realized that his being on the throne was in jeopardy.
B. Because he was troubled it says that all those around him were troubled. Do you know how you affect others when you walk into the room?
C. He was so upset that he made an order to have a mass killing of all Jewish boys who were two years old or younger. He was afraid of a baby. He died they shortly after this great killing. This baby that he had heard of could not have taken over as a ruler until he had grown up. So why was he so troubled with a baby?
D. There are many today who are troubled with the Christmas event.
1. They see one who wants to take over the control of their lives and be on the throne taking away their selfish desires and fail to grasp He is a Savior from the sin in our lives.
2. They see One who wants to take over as lord of their lives and fail to see a loving Guide who will give them peace in their lives.
3. They see one who requires that they become disciples and that they have to take up a cross and fail to see One who knows what is best for them and wants to lead them with joy in their life
There was once a king who offered a prize to the artist who could paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures, but there were only two that he really liked, and he had to choose between them. One picture was of a calm lake. The Lake was a perfect mirror for the peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. The second picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the king looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest.... a perfect picture of peace. Which of the pictures won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why? "Because," explained the king, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.
II. AS HEROD WAS TROUBLED THERE WERE OTHERS WHO WERE RELIGIOUS LEADERS WHO WERE
A. We see that at least Herod was wondering where the baby was born, but the Jewish leaders did not want to have any thing to do with him.
B. They knew exactly where the Christ child was to be born but they did not want to go and see Him. They knew what the Word of God said but they did not use it with faith. It is interesting that Karl Marx Knew the scripture from youth yet we know that he started a nation into an atheistic state. We can know the Word of God, we can read the Word of God, we can hear the Word of God and yet still live lives that are far from what God desires. The reason being is very simple. We are not totally committed to living as God wants us to live. My prayer has been for many years that God would raise a people that would be totally committed to Him. Not to this church, not to a pastor, not to a doctrine, not to a set of rules but sold out to Jesus that nothing blocks them from being in touch with Him. Are you Sold Out?
C. These religious leaders had the greatest opportunity in their lives and sat back and did nothing. It tells us that they refused to go see this new born baby. They knew about Him and gave the details to strangers yet stayed away. I wonder how many things in my life I have missed because I choose to stay away.
Form Jason Hurd, a fellow pastor, comes these words, “Back to the busy-ness you’re involved in—REMEMBER the important things. Never let your schedule and the tyranny of the truly unimportant rule your life and make you forget to spend time taking care of those things that are really important to you: Your relationship with God, Your family and encouraging each other. We’re all in this together.”
D. So we find today people in this world today, where churches are open to go to with out cost or fear that are indifferent to the message of Christmas.
1. There will be many that will celebrate Christmas with out any mention or thought of Christ. Many schools have outlawed the Christmas story. That day will only be a day of eating and watching TV for many.
2. Though many churches even in our community will have Christmas Eve services they will not see their churches packed to the full with people.
Japanese folklore tells of a rice farmer whose land overlooked the village where his friends lived. While working in his rice paddies one day, he felt a quake and saw the distant ocean swiftly withdraw from the shoreline. He knew there would soon be a devastating tidal wave. In the valley below, he saw his neighbors working fields that soon would be flooded. They would have to run to his hilltop or die. His rice barns were dry as tinder. To get the people quickly to higher ground, the farmer set fire to his barns and then rang the fire gong. His neighbors saw the smoke and rushed up the hill to help him. When they looked back from their place of safety, they saw the tidal wave wash over the fields they had just left. Instantly they understood. The farmer had made a great sacrifice that they might be saved.
III. AS HEROD WAS TROUBLED AND THERE WERE RELIGIOUS LEADERS WHO WERE
UNRESPONSIVE THERE WERE WISEMEN WHO TRAVELED AFAR TO WORSHIP HIM.
MT 2:11 When they entered the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary. So they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
A. They did not come to say, “Hey we are kings who came a far way off and we want you to notice that we are here.” It says they bowed down and worshipped Him. Jesus at this time was around 2 years old. These men knew who He was and though he was a toddler they worshipped Him as a King.
B. They brought three gifts that had much meaning.
1. Gold- A gift for a king. This represents deity for He was God’s Only Son.
2. Frankincense- A gift for a Priest. Represented purity and holiness. This was used for worship.
3. Myrrh- A gift for a prophet. This was an oil used for embalming and represented his coming sacrificial death.
“Caught being Good” By Tom Cobb in the Wesleyan Advocate. Shortly before Christmas as usual I had waited to long to do my shopping. So the shopping lines were long and I found myself n the line of a trainee check out person who you know was not very agile. A voice was heard, “Why do I always end up in the slowest line?” These were my thoughts also. I thought about moving to another line but was to close to change now. As you know the lady in front of me was a grandmother with all her presents for her dear grandchildren which it looked like to be a big number. After a long wait it was her turn to put all those little things she wanted to give that to most of us would seem like junk. After the total was given she reached in her old weary from use coin bag to get all her quarters and dimes to make the purchase. Then I heard the clerk say simply, “I’m sorry but you are $2.15 short.” I knew things were going to get worse if he had to call the manager to help make things right. So I reached into my pocket and pulled out $3. “Please don’t make her take anything back, use my money to pay for it.” The lady thanked him. And the clerk said that was the nicest thing he had seen all day. Then something happened that we do not hear about often. The man behind him who had grumbled took out a couple more dollars and gave it to the lady. Now it caught on and they took up a collection down the line and t hey gave it to the grandmother. Tom concludes by saying. “That experience was worth $3—every cent of it.”
C. Those who really love Jesus will respond with praise and thanksgiving.
1. They will respond with singing that comes from the heart. How would you rate your
2. When they pray it will be covered with much thanksgiving. Is your heart filled with
thanksgiving today? If not why not?
3. When they give they will give cheerfully and generously. When you received the
Offering plate today did you want to laugh?
4. When they worship it will be from a meaningful heart. What is up most on your
Mind today? Did you come to worship Him?
We can respond to this message and be troubled like Herod. We can respond to this message and be unresponsive to it as the religious leaders. We can respond to this message and go deeper in our worship as the wise men did. Which will it be for you?
How will you respond and react to the Christmas story this year?