We don’t have to live very long before we discover that the true meaning of things is easily lost over time. Certainly this is true for the Christmas season. What God has intended to be a time of great rejoicing for his children can become a very stressful season and the “silent night” experience far from reality. In the midst of it all God extends himself just as He did 2000 years ago when the Messiah entered our world. He is the true gift of Christmas, the reason for and the meaning of the season. The more that we miss that, the farther we drift from the kind of joy that we are meant to know. And so the question of this morning’s sermon, “What in the world does God need to do to get our attention?”
For those who tend to look up (luxury) - a display in the heavens
Financial freedom is a wonderful blessing that should cause us to thank God. There can be pitfalls that accompany it.
q Lack of compassion
One of the greatest needs of those who tend to look up is to find someone greater to worship. It is really the need to bow.
One of the saddest things in the world to me is to find people who know nothing higher than themselves and their own interests and outlooks as God. Every time we walk away from God as he deals with our lives and we refuse to allow Him to work in our lives, we proclaim ourselves as the sovereign lords of our lives.
The OT law says “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Christmas time is one of those seasons that challenges us to determine the true monarch in our lives.
A man wrapped up in himself is a very small bundle.
-- Benjamin Franklin
Pray, find no fault with the man who limps
or stumbles along the road,
unless you have worn the shoes he wears
or struggled beneath his load.
There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt
though hidden away from view,
or the burden he bears, placed on your back
might cause you to stumble to.
Don't sneer at the man who's down today
unless you felt the blow,
that caused his fall, or felt the shame
that only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
that were his, if dealt to you,
in the self same way, at the self same time
might cause you to falter to.
Don't be too harsh with the man who sins
or pelt him with words or stones,
unless you be sure, yes doubly sure
that you have no sins of your own.
For you know perhaps if the tempters voice
should whisper as softly to you,
as it did to him when he went astray
it would cause you to falter to.
For those who tend to look down (labor) - a divine host
q They were homeless
q They worked the night shift
q They were most likely hired hands
One of the greatest needs of the person who tends to look down is to recognize their true need. Often they tend to define happiness in terms of their wants. It is really the need to look up and trust.
As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God,
Because He was my friend.
But then, instead of leaving Him
In peace, to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
In ways that were my own.
Finally I took them back and said,
"Dear God, why are you so slow?"
"My child," He said, "what could I do?
You never did let go."
BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD
God, what do you mean to be still and know you are God?
My child, what I mean is:
Though the earth be removed,
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with swelling,
Though the wind blow,
Though the storm rage;
IN OTHER WORDS:
Though your bills are due,
Though they give you a hard time on your job,
Though your husband won't act right,
Though your wife won't act right,
Though your children are disobedient,
Though there's sickness in your body,
Though your enemies get on your NERVES;
Stop your WORRIES!
Stop your COMPLAINING!
Stop your DOUBTING!
Stop your FROWNING!
Cease your fears, and dry up those tears!
For I'm right there to comfort you,
I'm right there to guide you,
I'm right there to hold you up,
I'm right there to heal you,
I'm right there to deliver you.
So cast your cares upon me for I care for you.
My child this is what I mean by being still and knowing I AM GOD.
FOR I AM GOD ALL BY MYSELF!!!
If you find yourself looking down this Christmas let me encourage you to pursue Christ and find what you are longing for in him.
For those who tend to look around (longing) – a declaration of hope
q They were in a prime position to recognize the hand of God
q They knew the disappointment of long standing, unanswered prayer
q They were most likely losing or had lost hope
One of the greatest needs of those who tend to “look around” is to discover contentment in their own circumstances. It is really the need to thank God for whatever lot he has given us in life and begin to count our blessings. God cannot bless the highly expectant soul.
One of the most unsettling practices in the world is to look around. So often we see only what is immediately discernible in the lives of other people. We all realize that what we easily see does not even begin to tell the story. I don’t know how many times I have been surprised to discover the suffering in the lives of people who wear the masks of self-sufficiency.
We see what others have and are reminded of what we do not have. The heart of God within us would compel us to learn to celebrate with those who celebrate as much as we mourn with those who mourn.
It is something internal which makes us see things incorrectly. A vision problem. If you are unhappy or dissatisfied today, it is not your circumstance that creates that feeling but your response to it. Paul wrote: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.”
Just know that God hears your prayer today just as he did with Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Today Lord, I have an unshakable conviction, a positive, resolute assurance that what you have spoken is unalterably true. But today, Lord, my sick body feels stronger and the stomping pain quietly subsides. Tomorrow, and then tomorrow, if I must struggle again with aching exhaustion and twisting pain until I am breathing, until I am utterly spent, until fear eclipses the last vestige of hope. Then Lord, then grant me the enabling grace to believe without feeling, to know without seeing, to clasp your invisible hand and wait with invincible trust for the morning.