This time of year we turn our attention to giving gifts. My usual response when asked what I would like is, “I don’t need anything because I have everything I need”. My father emailed me the same request saying “please, no gifts this year. I am cleaning out all the old gifts I never used.” Problem is these kinds of responses are more of a bah-humbug spirit, than a Christmas Spirit. Christmas has always been about giving, always will be…
John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”.
1 John 3:16 tells us “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down (gave) his life for us.”
Preparing for this years Christmas message I have been pondering a verse that gripped me a number of months ago.
1 Peter 3:14-16. “Do not be afraid of the things they are afraid of. Do not be frightened. But in your heart, set apart Christ, as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks,
the reason for the hope that your have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience”.
I set out for myself to prepare my answer for the hope that I have. For me I know “In defense of hope” would be a good message to learn and to share in these troubled times, and for some fearful days. The hope I have in Christ’s finished work on the cross I share written on these five Christmas ornaments.
My hope in Christ is for:
Even if we are fortunate enough to think “we have all we need this year”, we really have nothing at all, IF we don’t have God’s gift of Salvation.
Jesus says in John 10:10. “The Devil comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have life abundantly, to the fullest.”
These five gifts and so much more, freely await us, So that we indeed can have a life full and abundant.
The Bible teaches Christ crucified on a cross
Acts 5:30 tells us “Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” It was on that “tree”, hands and feet nailed to the cross, in severe pain and agony, that Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
Luke 23:24. If Jesus can forgive His murders and mockers, he will surely forgive you.
1 John 1:9 teaches us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
It’s comforting to know Jesus stands ready to forgive us, anytime we ask.
John 8:34 teaches us “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
Romans 3:23 tells us; “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
A pastor of mine brought a message whose title I will always remember, “Sin takes you where you don’t want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay”.
Story telling time…
Charles Dickens’s a Christmas Carol – a most famous Christmas story, and one of my all-time favorites. Remember that before the three Christmas Spirits visit Scrooge, he was visited by his partner in life, Jacob Marley. Marley tried to warn him.
In life, Marley neglected the people around him and focused only on his own wealth, and for that he was doomed to spend eternity walking in chains (in slavery) and watching joy without being a part of it.
The first Ghostly Spirit of Christmas Past brings Scrooge face to face with opportunities missed for happiness. Maybe Dickens got his inspiration from, Ezekiel 20:43 which tells us in God’s judgment: “There you will remember your conduct and all your actions by which you have defiled yourselves for all the evil you have done. And You will know that I am Lord”
Is sin keeping you on the outside of joy today? I urge you today to not let that happen forever. My friends, I pray God convicts us all, that unrepentant sin keeps us in chains – forever.
Praise God Jesus says in John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Psalm 116 tells us “you have freed me from my chains.
Mark 5:34 tells is “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.Psalm 136:24 tells us “you have freed us from our enemies.
Job 33:9 tells us ‘I am pure, as if I have done no wrong; I am clean and free from sin.
Luke 1:64 tells is “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.
Praise be to God John 8:36 tells us: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Free indeed, freed indeed ..
This is good news. This is the Gospel. The word Gospel literally means GOOD NEWS. The good news does not stop here!
1 Cor 5:17 tells us “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! “
Acts 1:8 tells us “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you”
John 14 & 15 Jesus tells us: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – your Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
1 Cor 12 & 7 tells us “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. Each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”
The transformational power we have in fortification means: to protect or strengthen against attack, surround or provide with defensive military works, to furnish with a means of resisting force, to make strong, impart strength and vigor to, to increase the effectiveness. What a gift and hope we have in Jesus, amen?
There is more..
Genesis 9:7 tells us: “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
Genesis 17:6 tells us: “I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.”
John 15 Jesus says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Why be fruitful?
Genesis 12:2 tell us: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing”
Galatians 3:14 tells us: He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus
1 Cor 9:23 teaches us: “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
For how long?
1 John 2:16. I am the bread if life – whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” For you, Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Hebrews 10:13-14 tells us: “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
John 10:28 Jesus promises: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
At the cross there is free forgiveness and ample blessings that last forever. May I always know that a clean heart of goodness is more beautiful than the lily, that only a clean heart can sing by night and by day, that such a heart is mine when I abide at Calvary (Poem)
Keeping a clear conscience.
The message is not always comfortable. In fact, sometimes God’s truth is very uncomfortable!
Mark 16:15 Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Matthew 24:14 prophesies: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
We must teach “the whole counsel of God.” (do not be frightened) Being sensitive to the un-churched (gentleness & respect).
Quote by Rick Warren: My experience is that the un-churched are not asking for a watered-down message. They expect to hear the Bible when they come to church. They just want to hear how it relates to their lives. They can handle a clear, biblical message when it is delivered in terms they understand and in a tone that shows you respect and care about them. They are looking for solutions this Christmas, not a scolding.”
I believe Hope can lead to faith.
Hebrews 11:11 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Psalm 52:9 – For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess”
John 3:17 – For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned.
Dear God our Father. Creator of all life, our very lives Giver of all good gifts. Christmas has always been about Christ and always will be. Take away our fear to proclaim that when we are asked for the reason for the hope that we have. You gave your son Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life, A forgiven, freed, fortified, fruitful and forever life. Lord, we pray your message of Hope convicts us to a saving Faith. For faith is the things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Lord, we pray our Fruit be abundant as much as you promise to those who abide in you – that we will bear much fruit.
Thank God for a blessed exciting hope, while we wait for forever. God bless everyone, everyone of FSG