Summary: This sermon depicts the true meaning of what Christmas really is; through God’s forgiveness; His help in our storms; and the hope He gives us for our future.
Last week, I talked about how Christmas is a time of love. God loved us enough to send His Son to be our sacrifice. Jesus loved us enough to be that sacrifice. And now, God wants us to love Jesus enough to sacrifice our will to Him.
I explained that love is the willingness to sacrifice something you might really want for something someone else might really need. But not all of us understand what love is.
If you have ever read the Peanuts comic strip, you will remember the animosity between Charlie Brown and Lucy. For that matter, it was animosity between Lucy and just about everyone else, actually. Well, one Christmas Lucy comes to Charlie Brown and says, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. This is the season of peace on earth and good will toward men. Therefore, I suggest we forget all about our differences and love one another.”
Charlie Brown’s face lights up like a Christmas tree, and says, “That’s great, Lucy, but can’t we continue to do that all year long?” And Lucy replies, “What are you, nuts?”
In LUKE 2:8-14, we read,
8- And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9- An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10- But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11- Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13- Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14- “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
Wow! Can you imagine how wonderful our homes could be, how wonderful our lives in general could be, how wonderful our world could be, if we really did put the blessing of “peace on earth” into daily practice? As Christmas comes closer, we should think that we really could have hearts filled with love. Maybe we really could be kind to each other all the time, as Charlie Brown suggested, instead of just once a year like Lucy intoned.
When we buy presents for somebody, most of us put a lot of thought into what we are going to buy. We think about their needs, their desires and what would make them happy. Then, armed with this information, we go shopping to find that “perfect gift” for that person.
After we decide on just the right gift, we purchase it, sometimes spending more money on it than we had planned, and we get it gift-wrapped and then we start to anxiously await the moment when that person will open our gift. We enjoy seeing their joy and delight as they see, for the first time, the gift we put so much love and effort into getting for them. We enjoy seeing the look of appreciation and acceptance on their faces and in their eyes as they see that gift.
Now, have you ever got a gift for someone that they did not like? It is a most disappointing thing for the giver to go through, believe me. It’s as if when they show disapproval of the gift, they are actually showing disapproval of giver. Our nature is to see the acceptance or rejection of the gift as a reflection of how they view us as individuals.
We need to remember that, as we are looking for their expression of acceptance, they are looking to see whether or not we are accepting them, through the gift they gave us.
The exchange of gifts is a very important part of our Christmas celebration, isn’t it? Last week, I said that when the wise men gave gifts to Jesus, it started the tradition of giving at Christmas. Actually, God was the One who actually started the giving. Let’s talk about that.
What was the gift that God gave us? Most of you would agree that He gave us His Son. Some may say that He gave us His love. Both answers are correct. But, we are going to talk about some other gifts that God gave us.
1. GOD GAVE US THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE FORGIVEN
You’ve heard the expression “Nobody will like you if you don’t like yourself”. That is a true statement. But taking that one step further, you will never have any peace with anyone else until you have peace within yourself. And, we will never have peace within ourselves until we finally have peace with God. And, we can never have peace with God until our sins have been forgiven.