ES014 Keep Christmas Christian

Christmas  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  15:04
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Luke 2:1–20 NKJV
1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
FILM: A modern nativity (4:min)
Introduction: During this season of shopping and entertaining, let’s remember why Christmas is celebrated in the first place. We decorate our homes, send out cards, visit friends and family, buy presents, and some may even go carolling. Some celebrate a portion of Christmas Day watching football games, war films or the Queen’s speech. For some, it’s a time for drinking and partying. But this is a holiday to honour the fact that God sent His Son to be born in a manger and to become our Saviour. As Christians, we should celebrate in a unique way. I’d like to suggest four responses to the birthday of Christ.
1. By Witnessing About Christ (v. 17). The shepherds “made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.” We are to make Him known to those around us and help them understand that He came as a Saviour. There are many opportunities available during Christmas and, perhaps, we can do our part inviting people to attend church services with us. When it comes to introducing people to Jesus there is nothing like the imperative: Come and see! Many of those Jesus met went on to tell so many people whether they had been healed or had their lives changed by Him. All of us here have a testimony about what Jesus has done for us, stories about our experience with the Saviour. We might not be evangelists in gifting but we are all called to be witnesses of what we have seen just like the shepherds who going back to work shared with others the story that night an angel visited them and the baby they saw in a manger.

Spiritual encounters with God, as amazing as they may be, should always make us more fit for dealing with life’s routines and more focused for handling life’s responsibilities. God draws us away from this world to reveal things of the spirit to us and then sends us back into the world to live out the truth we have seen.

Be intentional about sharing Christ this Christmas and, of course, in the coming year for we have been called to the mission of growing missionary disciples. Being intentional means that we are deliberately making a choice to share Jesus with those in our family or a friend or a colleague or with a stranger. Am I forcing your hand? Is it not the command of Jesus, as if we really need to be told?
Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
We need not be commanded:
Acts 4:20 NKJV
For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
2. By Wondering at Christ (v. 18).
Those who heard the shepherds wondered at the things told them. A word seldom used today is muse. It means sit back, meditate, and think – it also means to wonder and marvel which is very apt for this time of year. If I was to ask you what you think the opposite of muse is I wonder if you could guess. The opposite of muse is amuse. The ‘a’ before muse makes it a negative – to amuse is not to think, to not muse, is to not wonder or marvel. Amusements are those things that keep us from thinking seriously about anything. Bet you didn’t know that amusement meant that! Christmas is a wonderful time for amusement, yet when those in Luke 2 heard about Jesus they mused on Him. Think about it! Here is a story of purity wrapped up in the birth of a Child born to a young mother. Here is joy amidst seeming disaster a not finding room in the inn. Here is a great announcement to a lowly group of shepherds. Here is a Baby born to die. Here is a King born in a stable to poor parents, yet was God manifest in flesh.


“What a paradox! The Eternal One caught in a moment of time. Omnipresence corralled in a cave manger. Omnipotence cradled in a helpless infant who could not even raise His head from the straw. Omniscience confined in a baby who could not say a word. The Christ who created the heavens and the earth cradled in a manger in a cave stable. What condescending love!”

—Ralph Earle

No wonder people marvelled when they heard the story of Jesus.
3. By Waiting Before Christ (v. 19).
We also celebrate Christmas by waiting before Christ, even as Mary pondered all these things in her heart. You say, “Isn’t that what you were just saying?” Well, the word ponder is even more intense than wonder or muse. It means to delve beneath the surface and to contemplate, trying to understand. Mary pondered and treasured them up. She committed them to memory. She was a woman who thought deeply about what was happening in her life. This time of year can be so busy that we can let the outward celebrations of the holiday season take us away from the one thing that should mean the most to us as Christians. We have to make time for waiting before God.
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
This season wears us all out but our strength is renewed when we think deeply about Christ and wait on Him.
4. By Worshipping Christ (v. 20).
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God. I believe Christmas affords tremendous opportunities for glorifying God as we sing our carols and songs, as we pray personally, quietly praise Him, and publicly worship. Oh, to celebrate Christmas as Christians, we’ve got to take a step back from the busyness of the season and the materialism of the world and focus on Him!

The late Paul Ehrman Scherer, celebrated Lutheran preacher, told the story of a college professor who sat reading a book in the waiting room of a maternity section of a hospital while his own child was being born. When at last a nurse appeared and said, “It’s a boy!” the teacher scarcely looked up, but grunted, as was his custom when interrupted by a student, “Ask him what he wants.”

Christmas is a good time to ask the Lord what He wants from us on His birthday!

The angels led the way in worship:
Luke 2:14 NKJV
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Conclusion: I found this story but couldn’t find out exactly when and where this happened but apparently a few years ago on the Continent:
A christening took place for a baby who had been born to royalty. As the guests arrived, a servant met them at the door and took their wraps. Eventually someone asked, “Where’s the baby?” The nurse was sent to fetch him, but she couldn’t find him. Finally, a guest recalled having seen the baby in the bed where the coats had been placed. The parents were horrified to find there the lifeless form of their son who had been smothered under the pile of coats. What irony. The real purpose of the gathering had been forgotten and the one to be honoured was killed.
I wonder if that isn’t true for many at this time of year. Jesus is our celebration. He is our Honoured One. He is our King. Yet He is forgotten in the melee. 20% of Brits in a recent survey did not know that Christmas had something to do with Jesus and 10% couldn’t even say where Jesus was born. This year let’s honour Him by witnessing, wondering, waiting before Him and worshipping Him!

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