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Christmas Hope

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December 21, 2008                                                                                                G3a

Christmas Hope.doc                                                                                                        SD21

CHRISTMAS HOPE

Show video: BluefishTV-Advent_1_-_Hope.mpg

Emmanuel—God with us!!!!

      It is the essence of the Christmas story!!!

            Don’t miss it!!!!

There was a price to be paid…

…for God…sent His one and only Son—to the mess of humanity…to the manger and the cross

…A price for Mary…and Joseph…

      Disgrace, rejection, isolation,

“A sword would pierce your heart also” was the prophetic word to Mary…she lived with the portent all her life…and saw it on the cross…33 years after the barnyard birth…

Love always has a price

Promises bring pleasure…but often they come at the price of a life…

            Hope comes to those willing to enter in to the promise…

But never forget that the beginning of our hope for eternal life and life with meaning began with a promise and a price tag…

At Christmas the children enjoy the gifts

      The parents pay the price…

often until next December when they finally get the card paid off only to repeat the pattern over again…

In salvation we enjoy the gift…God has paid the price!

      But it was just once and for all…for all who would open the gift…and in opening the gift find life and hope and adventure…

But it is the nature of a gift that it must not only be opened but it must be enjoyed…not merely placed on display…

      Not just locked in the closet or the garage…until needed!

            Not merely put on display…

God gave the gift so we can live changed lives…transformed by the Gospel of Jesus!!!

      God with us!!!

When God wanted to show us how much he loved us he didn’t forward an email—or trust it to western union or the US Postal Service—He couldn’t put it in the hands of the man in brown, FedX couldn’t carry the package---

He gave the message to His Son—

      Wrapped him in the rags of human flesh

He slept his first night on planet earth under the canopy of a stable cave—amidst the stench of a cattle stall

It is amazing how we glamorize it and sanitize it…

This was not a glowing halo experience—this was gut-level condescension---this was humility in all its glory

This was God stepping out of eternity and placing himself in the hands of people like us—pretty risky if you ask me!

This was the Shepherd giving his life for the sheep…

And inviting the shepherds of the field to witness the greatest event of history—God in human flesh!!!  Emmanuel!!!!

            This was the beginning of HOPE!!!

     

I love Christmas!  The lights! The sounds! The smell of pine boughs and candles burning! Fresh baked cookies and breads!

Dinner in the oven!

But if you really want to fill your house with the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas—it would be more appropriate to hear the sound of animals—chickens clucking (and smelling), cows mooing (and smelling), sheep bleating (and stinking)—I don’t think they make a candle that says—smells like a dirty stable!

That is what He showed up!

      It represents the sin into which he came! 

A world gone wrong!  A people intent on self-destruction!

But God so loved—(John 3:16)—that He gave….

It is the first Christmas gift!

      It is the one gift that must be received and then used every day

           

The first gift of Christmas is Jesus—salvation!

      The hope of a new day…

“The thrill of hope…” as the song writer put it…

He came to world that was ready to kill him—and he came anyway---He came to …

Heal the brokenhearted,

     To proclaim  liberty to the captives,

     And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

There is something of great mystery here—something of divine origin—beyond human understanding—

It is not the way we would do it

      A king---ought to be born in a palace

But who could approach a king in a palace—except the rich and powerful?

      God wants all people to come to him!  Even you!

We have heard the Christmas story from Luke: Shepherds, angels, mangers, stables,

We have heard Matthews telling of the story:  Wise men, and the star, the journey and Herod the paranoid King—

But have you heard heavens side of the story?

It is found in two passages:  one very familiar

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

And a passage in Philippians 2

Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!

Put them together and you hear heavens side of the Christmas story

Eternal God—God the Son—

Loved his creation called mankind---more specifically: individual people with specific names: names like, Joe, and Sharon, and Bill, and Dwight and Penny, and you!

His love was so great that he would lay aside all of heaven to occupy humanity—for your sake


When that first cry was heard from the stable of Bethlehem and into the care of Mary and Joseph came a wrinkled, blood-covered baby, --- the universe reached its turning point.

Because this was “God with us.”   Emmanuel

For the first time, the God and Creator who before had only been heard could now be seen and touched.

All that He was (as God) now occupied human flesh . . . approachable, available, and vulnerable.

On that night in the stable Mary and Joseph were filled with love for this little infant, as any new parents are.

But they could hardly imagine how much this little boy loved them!

His love for them would reveal itself most dramatically when He was a grown man and was cruelly nailed to a cross.

The stable hints to us about the love of God. But the infant lying in the manger would make His love crystal clear!

The Apostle John wrote:

1 John 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

There is an amazing truth here: God initiated the relationship with us!

That is the exact opposite of what religion teaches! Religion starts with the assumption that we must initiate the relationship with God. Religion tells me that I must improve myself and prove myself; until I have earned the love of God.
But the opposite is true! Think through these two statements carefully:

· God loves you and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more.
· God loves you and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less.

If that is not HOPE!!!

      Doesn’t that give you a reason to love…and to live!!!

            And to believe???

Doesn’t that make you want to make the turn-around today?

      To return to the God who made you

            Who came to win you

                  Who came to die for you

                        And Who will return again to claim you

“fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices,

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
…….

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

BECAUSE GOD IS WITH US!!!!

      AND HE DESERVES OUR ATTENTION!

            OUR ADORATION

                  OUR VERY LIVES

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