A Christmas unlike any other
Christmas Dreams - “I am dreaming of this kind of Christmas!”
A Christmas unlike any other!
Mark isn’t the only one needing to conduct a little business here this morning. Today I begin a new series called Christmas Dreams. The series will run through the entire month of December including Christmas Eve! I have 100 yard signs (50 for each service) advertising our Christmas Eve series. I need 50 people to come get one. Just place them in your yard and then put the sign with your Christmas decorations so you can locate it again for next year! I want people to come and worship God’s one and only Son. Why? God has a message for you, for me – for us to hear this Christmas – TODAY! Speaking of Christmas the Columbus Dispatch printed a little article entitled “Yuletide Gems.” The article listed the 25 most popular Christmas songs played over the radio in the last five years. Coming in at #25 is Gloria Estefan’s “This Christmas, at #22 is Gene Autry’s Here Comes Santa Claus, #21 is John Mellencamp’s “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. #19 is Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas. #17 is Burl Ives signing “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” #13 is Kenny-G in Silver Bells, #11 is Andy Williams singing It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year #8 is Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms, #3 is Have yourself a Merry little Christmas by the Pretenders and the #1 played Christmas song is Winter Wonderland by the Eurythmics. Well, of these 25 songs my all time favorite came in at #7 on this list – are you familiar with – “White Christmas by Bing Crosby! (Show lyrics)
What are you dreaming of this Christmas? Is there anyone honestly dreaming of – wishing for - a white Christmas? I asked a few people “give me a dream or two for this Christmas?” Tim Pressler said, “To be together with my family...” Matt Crill took a page from Clark W Griswold, “A gift certificate to the jelly-of-the-month club. It's the gift that keeps on giving all year 'round...of course!” Lisa Davis said in one word – “PEACE!” That could be World peace, peace of mind, a piece of pie. Chris Brooks said, “A DETROIT LIONS SUPERBOWL IN 2011!” Becky Medley said, “I’m dreaming that a little Christmas elf would come and clean my house!” A word of caution here. Do not show up in an elf’s costume at Becky’s house – her husband is a cop and he will shoot you! So what are you dreaming of this Christmas? Is it a cool video game? Some new form of technology? Another pair of shoes? A budding romance? A better marriage? Maybe it’s just ONE gift OR something to eat! What do you think is God’s dream for you not just this Christmas but for your entire life?
Dreams are interesting…I was reading a commentary by Dr. Mark Moore. Mark is scheduled to come speak again here next April. Mark pointed out that of the six dreams in the New Testament – four are from God to Joseph. Let’s take a tour that can only be described as “dreamy.” Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 1. Do YOU NEED A BIBLE TODAY? The birth of Jesus is recorded in Matthew chapters 1 & 2 – foretold in Luke 1 and recorded in Luke chapter 2. Luke emphasizes Mary. Matthew emphasizes Joseph. We will get deeper into these verses in the next three weeks but for right now let’s be pinpoint specific. Find Matthew 1:20. That’s dream #1. Go to Matthew 2:12. That’s dream #2. One verse later. Matthew 2:13. There’s dream #3. Move further along to Matthew 2:19 (dream #4) and then to verse 22 – here’s dream #5. But there are six dreams in the New Testament. Go to the end of Matthew – find chapter 27.
Stephen Covey coined the phrase – “begin with the end in mind.” That’s habit #2 of his Seven habits of Highly Effective People. Covey coined it but Jesus lived it. 27 chapters ago we were at the beginning – the birth of Jesus. Now we sit hours from the end – the death of Jesus. When I say to you that Jesus began with the end in mind, I mean this – Jesus knew his purpose – he was born to die. Do you see verse 1 in Matthew 27? It would be around 5:30 or 6:00A.M on Good Friday morning. Go to verse 11. John 19:14 tells us it’s now 6 hours later – around 12 noon. Look at what happens! (Read 27: 11-19) There’s dream #6. Pilate’s wife had a dream. And not just any dream. Could this dream be considered a nightmare since she suffered like she did? Not sure. Maybe! And on top of that Pilate’s wife through Matthew gives no specific details about the dream except that – this Jesus dude is innocent. But Pilate already knows that. She’s simply confirming what he already knows to be true. Let’s revisit verse 14. Pilate is amazed because Jesus is unlike any prisoner he has ever seen. He acts on that fact. Look at verse 15. Read 15-17. Barabbas had a bad reputation. Mark & Luke both tell us that Barabbas was naughty and not nice.[i] His rap sheet is long – a known insurrectionist and a murderer. There’s no way these people will free a guilty man and kill an innocent man. Right? Not unless envy gets in the way! Highlight verse 18.
Envy and jealousy go hand in hand. Proverbs 14:30 says that envy will rot your bones! Envy will eat us up from the inside! Let’s play a little color association game. What emotion do we associate with the color blue? Depressed or freezing cold. How about red in the face? Angry. Yellow - besides being jaundiced – shouts happy. What about green? Green is associated with envy – has the little green monster been visiting your heart recently? Vicki Medvec is a professor and she conducted research on Olympic medalists and discovered that bronze medalists were happier than silver medalists. The reason makes perfect sense. Silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold, so they weren't satisfied with silver; bronze medalists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all…”[ii] The religious leaders felt like silver medalists compared to Jesus! There he is up there while we sit down here. Man, it fried them. “He’s got to go. He’s making us look bad. He said our prayers are just a bunch of babble! He says we’re filled with pride. Well, enough’s enough. After all, who does he think he is?”
According to Pilate’s wife - Jesus is unique. He’s the innocent one! I don’t think for a moment this woman had a dream about every person who appeared before her husband, the governor – Judge Pilate! But God communicated with her and God wants to communicate with us – in whatever means possible. Whether it’s through dreams, circumstance, the Bible, angels, Holy Spirit inner conviction, other people, casting lots or even through special signs.[iii] I mean God used stars to lead the magi right to his Jesus! (God/Dog clip)
God wants to lead you right to his son this morning. This may sound weird but there are a few bars in the Bible. I don’t mean the drinking kind. “Belly up to the bar boys!” Go back to Matthew 27:16. There are other "bar" names in the Bible. Have you ever heard of Barnabas? Bar in the Bible means “son of” Bar – “son of” Abba – “father.” Put them together and Barabbas means “Son of the father.” Isn’t it significant that a guilty man named “son of the father” was freed by the ultimate “son of the father!”
Go back to Matthew 1. Matthew spends an entire chapter helping us see that Jesus is uniquely altogether different. The first 17 verses focus on of all things – YAWN – a genealogy pointing out the Jesus is uniquely the Son of David or the Son of Man. That Jesus was a human being. A man – who never sinned. Who never lusted, lied, stole or gossiped. Verses 18-25 focus on Jesus being uniquely the Son of God. The one who will save us from our sins. The one who spoke with authority, telling demons where to go and what they can do. The one who forgives sins, walks on water and tells fruitless fig trees to wither.
This Christmas will be unlike any other Christmas in your entire life if you come to know this Son of Man, to trust this Son of God; and to serve this ultimate son of the father! Pilate’s wife did not realize the incredible gift she received from God. Through a simple dream she was given a glimpse of a radically innocent Jesus that profoundly impacted her life! “That’s what I need Greg. I need a dream.!” No you don’t. Not to be a pain, but you don’t. We want so much for God to speak to us, but we often forget that he already has. The question to ask is – are we listening?
A couple of months ago a girl named Halie Hite from Brazil, Indiana was killed in a car accident. She died on October 8. She went to Northview High School and played in the high school marching band. She died on a Thursday and the band was scheduled to march in a competition nine days later. They felt Halie would want them to march so they did. It was drizzling most of day of the competition, but as the band entered the field and began to play a rainbow appeared in the sky. And then a second rainbow. Is a rainbow a sign from God? According to Genesis 9:13 it is. A rainbow might be nothing more than just an arc of spectral colors that appear in the sky opposite the sun as a result of the refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain[iv] OR maybe a rainbow is much more – it’s God’s communication. And what’s he communicating? I am with you. I am for you. With me there’s hope. With my son there’s life. John Witt is a teacher at Dublin Scioto. This school also suffered a tragedy recently. Kyle Colello and Lyndsey Rice[v] both died a week ago Saturday Night in a one car accident. John emailed me this past week and said, “…the awesome thing is both had accepted Christ within the past year. They were both unique and amazing kids. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.
Let’s do that right now. Come and pray to God on behalf of the Colello and Rice families. Pilate’s wife told Pilate “have nothing to do with this innocent man. Let him go!” I’m saying do not let him go. Cling to Jesus and this Christmas will unlike any Christmas you’ve ever experienced.
[i] Luke 23:19 (NIV)
[iii] Mark Water, Knowing God’s Will Made Easier, Inner Pull Out Guide