HOW TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?

celebrate christmasHOW TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?

LUKE 2:8-18

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

  • MANY CHURCHES HAVE LIVE SINGING CHRISTMAS TREES
  • JESUS IS HERE!!
  • Shepherds—talk about LIVE nativity scene—they saw it literally.

MAIN POINT—The shepherds, who saw the first nativity scene, set the model for us in how to celebrate Christmas.

I.             HEAR & EXPERIENCE CHRISTMAS—v8-16

What are to hear/experience?

  1. We can trade FEAR for great JOY.v10

Can you imagine what these guys must have felt.  Throughout the Bible, whenever someone came upon an angel, the first reaction of the angel is “Fear Not.”

The angels are saying—this Savior came not to strike fear in our hearts but to bring good news of great joy.

  • The angel said to Zechariah: “Fear not!”
  • He said it to Mary: “Fear not!”
  • And now He says it to the shepherds: “Fear not!”
    It’s a natural thing for a sinner to fear.
  • The more guilt we have, the more things we fear: fear of being found out for some little deceit, fear that some ache we have is God’s judgment, fear of dying and meeting the holy God face to face.
  • But even though it’s natural, God sends Jesus with the word: Fear not!
  • Hebrews 2:14 says: Jesus became man “that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death have been held in lifelong bondage.”
  • Doesn’t this last phrase imply something tremendously liberating for our daily life?
  • FSU VS CLEMSON—1988—love watching the tape over and over again because I know the ending—FSU WINS!! 
  • If the worst fear–fear of death-has been taken away through the death of Christ, then surely God does not want us to fear the lesser things in life:
  • TAKE FEARS OFF THE TABLE—2 COR 10:5
  • The message of Christmas is fear not! God is ruling the world for the great good of His children. Believe His promises: “Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will help you; I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness… Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall wear… Cast all your anxieties on God because He cares for you … The Lord is my light and my Salvation: whom shall I fear. The Lord is the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?”

The Shepherds traded in fear for great joy.

What fear do we face today?

Fear is such a common thing in our world today

  • And in the place of fear Jesus puts joy.

HONDA VS. ISUZU—traded my beat up, smelly old Honda for a brand new Isuzu Trooper—the difference was overwhelming.  lOVED THE NEW CAR SMELL!!!!

  • Joyless faith in Jesus is a contradiction in terms. Paul summed up the goal of his whole ministry like this: “for the advancement and joy of your faith.” And he told the Philippians and Thessalonians “Rejoice always and again I will say rejoice.” Always? Yes. Not without tears of grief and pain. But still joyful.

Isaiah 61:1-4—speaks of how this savior will conquer our fears and what this great joy entails.

Great joy comes from freedom in our souls.

Great joy comes from demolition strongholds of sin that have been in your family for generation.

Great joy comes from liberty in Christ—a relief that comes from surrendering to Christ—to His desires.

When I was a kid, there was an older couple who would visit our little country church once in a while. They were missionaries on a Sioux Indian reservation not far away. I remember him as a saintly, tall, white-haired man who would insist we all stand if he read Scripture. He died when I was young.

His wife was eccentric. She was angry with God over the death of her husband, and she turned into a beggar. Although she had a house, she asked one lady to take her in. I remember her coming into our house as though she owned the place and asking for money. Her house was filled with things she had gotten from begging but had never used. At church socials she would pick up sandwiches and stuff them in her purse. By the end of her life, she was living in just the kitchen of her house, heated with a cookstove.

After she died and people started cleaning out that old house, they found well over $150,000 in cash, antiques and property. The cash was stuffed in old boxes and bottles.

This story is a double-tragedy. Though she was rich in material things, the woman lived like a beggar. She also lived like a beggar as a Christian—fearful, isolated, faithless, and selfish.

Citation: Lee Eclov, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Solution to fear—trust & surrender to the sovereignty of God.

God, I am at the end of my rope—I surrender to you.

  1. This is good new for ALL people—v10-11

This is such GOOD NEWS for ALL PEOPLE

  • Luke 2 begins with mention of Caesar Augustus—they claimed that he was a god.  That he was Lord & Savior.
  • This ruler in Jesus Christ is both universal and everlasting.
  • Good news comes to peasants, not to rulers; the lowly are lifted up.
  • Were the shepherds unclean?  Probably not—just very poor.  They had a huge responsibility—the shepherds in general had care over 30,000 sheep for the sacrificial system of the Temple.
  • They were just very poor and lowly.
  • John 3:16—God loved so that He gave.
  • His love is NOT a vague, sentimental feeling, but a love that costs.
  • God gave what was most dear to Him.  This is the heart of the Gospel—not “God is love”—a precious truth, but affirming NO divine act for our redemption.  God so loved that He gave.

When Steve Henning of Huntley, Illinois, was two years old, he contracted spinal meningitis. It was the winter of 1943, and because of World War II, doctors had a shortage of penicillin and could not provide Steve the treatment he needed. Sadly, he lost his hearing.

For 57 years, Steve could not hear music, laughter, or human speech. Even though he lived a full life, he still longed to hear the voices of those he loved.

In the winter of 2001, he learned of a surgical procedure that would allow sound waves to bypass the non-functioning part of his ear and travel directly to the auditory nerve. On January 30th he was operated on. Because the implanted device could not be activated until the swelling in the ear decreased, doctors and Steve didn’t know if the operation was successful for six weeks.

The day of reckoning came on a blustery spring day. Steve nervously wondered if the procedure had been in vain. As the audiologist programmed the cochlear implant, he invited Steve’s wife to say something. Pat Henning leaned toward her husband and gently said, “I love you.” Able to hear for the first time in six decades, Steve’s face broke into a smile. The first words he heard were of love.

When a nonbeliever turns to the Lord, the Lord opens spiritual ears that have previously been unable to hear. Paul describes this transformation to the Corinthians this way: “Old things pass away, and all things become new.” That includes the ability to hear God saying, “I love you!”

Citation: Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois; source: The Daily Herald (9-29-01

This message is for all people.

I don’t want to offend—this message is for ALL people.

This message is GOOD NEWS FOR ALL PEOPLE

For You is born . . . a savior.

C.        Peace for Believers – <st2:bcv_smarttag>Luke 2:12-14

Peace for whom? There is a somber note sounded in the angels’ praise. Peace among men on whom His favor rests. Peace among men with whom He is pleased. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So Christmas does not bring peace to all.

“This is the judgment,” Jesus said, “that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil.” Or as the aged Simeon said when he saw the child Jesus: “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against . . . that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” O how many there are who look out on a bleak and chilly Christmas day and see no more than that.

For Everyone Who Believes

  • He came to His own and His own received Him not, but to as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God, to as many as believed on His name.
  • It was only to His disciples that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.”
  • The people who enjoy the peace of God that surpasses all understanding are those who in everything by prayer and supplication let their requests be made known to God.
  • The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God. So Paul prays: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing“.
  • And when we do trust the promises of God and have joy and peace and love, then God is glorified; Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men with whom He is pleased: men who would believe.

CONCLUSION

On Thursday, November 27, 2003—with extraordinary secrecy—President George W. Bush paid a surprise visit to Iraq. His purpose was to thank U.S. troops for “defending the American people from danger.” While there, the President served up Thanksgiving dinner to 600 stunned soldiers in a mess hall at Baghdad’s airport.

The soldiers had gathered for what they thought would be a speech by chief U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer. Bremer told the troops he would read a Thanksgiving proclamation from the President, then paused and noted that it was customary for the most senior official present to read the President’s proclamation. “Is there anybody back there who’s more senior?” he asked. The President himself then emerged from behind a curtain as cheering soldiers climbed on chairs and tables to yell their approval.

With regard to this Thanksgiving visit to the soldiers far from home, Bush said, “It’s got to be lonely for them. I thought it was important to send that message that we care for them.”

The unannounced visit not only brought wild cheers from battle-worn soldiers, but also stunned the nation and even surprised the President’s parents, who had been expecting him at the Thanksgiving table at his Crawford, Texas, ranch.

In a similar manner, God, who had formerly delivered his message through others (Hebrews 1:1–2), made a surprise personal visit to the world on that first Christmas—and “the Word became flesh and lived among us.” When God wanted to show a sinful world that he cared, he came in person. Even now the impact of the Incarnation should take us by surprise.

Citation: Associated Press, (11–27–03); submitted by Neil Bennett, San Antonio, Texas

How to celebrate Christmas?

HEAR & EXPERIENCE CHRISTMAS

We can trade FEAR for great JOY.

This is good new for ALL people

We can go to Him

TELL OTHERS ABOUT CHRISTMAS

What God’s Word says about Christmas

What we have SEEN & HEARD

LET LOOSE & WORSHIP GOD

After pondering, we will  be compelled to worship

God deserves our BEST WORSHIP

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