This really has nothing to do with what I want to share today but I was recently thinking about our world and Christmas. If you were God and wanted to celebrate your Son’s birthday, what would that party look like?
- Everyone would feel love and express love to each other.
- It would be a special time for families and loved ones to share with each other.
- Memories of these celebrations will literally change lives.
- Love would be displayed by giving gifts and kind gestures to each other.
- Love and Harmony would be throughout.
- Light would shine from everywhere.
- We dream of a ‘White Christmas’…the color ofpurity.
- Twila Paris sings “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” and medlies into “Whiter than snow, yes whiter than snow. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”
- Trees, a sign of life, would be in each home…most with a star atop and lights all over them.
- The most dominate colors throughout the season would be white (purity) green (life) and red (the color of the blood that gives life)
- Words like love, joy, peace…would dominate conversation and would be the life we would live…at least for a few weeks.
- All this would be known as CHRISTmas.
Our world wants so badly to remove Jesus from everything. Not sure why they feel so threatened by someone they say doesn’t exist, or at best is someone who isn’t who He says He is.
But without even realizing it they are promoting His message to the world at Christmas. They don’t want Jesus but want love, peace, harmony, joy…all the things associated with the celebration of Jesus’birth. We live it for His birthday while saying we reject Him.
***And why not? This is the time LOVE took on human form and lived among us. He changes lives…
- Jesus IS love
- Jesus IS light
- Jesus IS life
- He has the power to bring love and peace to the whole world.
He is controlling the world by showing us peace, love, light, harmony that all comes through Him.
His Son’s birthday brings out the best in our world. No wonder Satan wants Christmas stopped. It changes our world without us even realizing it.
Christmas is about God’s gift to us which should lead toour gift to Him, but we want it to be all about our gifts to each other.
Nothing wrong with giving gifts to each other, Jesus is all about giving. It’s just when we leave Him out that we overlook the meaning of Christmas.
***And speaking of gifts at Christmas…I remember when our kids were young. $40-50 would buy Christmas gifts for them.
Then when they got older the $40-50 became $100’s.
Toy cars and trucks turned into bikes and scooters that turned into real cars and real trucks…
- Cell phones
- I pads
- I pods
- Play Station
You know what I mean…But what do we as parents do?
There was that fine line between wanting to show them how much we love them…and our society says the more you spend the more love you are showing…and helping them learn the true meaning of Christmas.
I remember going to Brazil a few years back and taking a roll of stickers throughout one of the communities.
When the children learned we were giving out ‘stickers’ they came running from all around.
For a Sticker
You would have thought we had handed them$100 bills…and it was a sticker.
What would these children do if they woke up Christmas morning and saw the gifts around our trees?
We are a blessed nation.
- Look at our homes
- Look at our cars
- Look at our clothes
- If we go more than a few hours without eating a substantial meal we say we are starving to death.
- We walk up to a thermostat on our walls, or in our cars for that matter, and dial up the temperature we desire.
- We don’t even go outside when it’s too hot or too cold…because we don’t have to.
- We have king size beds with Temperpedic mattresses…
- We have closets the size of some people’s homes.
- We have clothes that have only been worn a few times that we need to give away to make room formore, newer ones.
- We love movies, sporting events, theater, eating out…all forms of entertainment.
- We pay more for our entertainment than most of the world will see in their annual income.
- I explained to a group of Russian young adults about attending a football game in the USA…
- Leave early to tailgate…aka eat before the game.
- We set up our ‘tailgate domain’ with a feast, satellite TV, anything to make it fun and comfortable…
- We go into the stadium and get something to eat and drink.
- We go back and get more to eat and drink at half time.
- If we are among the ‘fortunate ones’ we get to do this in an air conditioned sky box and don’t even have to be exposed to the elements.
- We go back to our cars and eat some more waiting for traffic to thin out.
- Then we stop at a restaurant and get something to eat before we head back home…
- To turn on our 60″ LED Smart TV’s to watch highlights from the game we just attended.
- They were baffled when I told them this and thought I was just making it all up.
I’m not saying this to make us feel bad or guilty. We are a blessed people.
Even our poor people have more than most of theworld’s ‘middle class’.
We are blessed!!!
Since we began our ministry at Orrville I frequently get text messages from homeless guys telling me about blessings they receive.
- Someone will buy them a meal.
- Someone will buy them clothes/shoes…
- Someone will put them up in a motel.
- There are different places around town where they can get free meals nearly every day of the week.
- Programs offer medical care…
- And were you paying attention?
- They are telling me all this by text
o Most everyone we see has a free cell phone.
We are a blessed people.
Just think of the blessings your family has received…
If I were to ask you how your family has been blessed, what would you say?
- Since we just celebrated Christmas…Blessed by…
- Time with family?
- An unexpected gift?
o Maybe even the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else?
We are so blessed!!!
***I know I love for my day to begin with a time of Bible reading and conversation with my Heavenly Father.
Every morning I would close my Bible and speak these words…
Father, I thank You for this day and the opportunity to live it.
I thank you for the many blessings You give me and my family.
—I’ll have to admit. I became convicted over that prayer awhile back.
What was I referring to when I thanked God for my blessings?
- My family?
- My house?
- My job?
- My church?
I am truly thankful/grateful to God for each of those things, but is that what I mean when I say my life is blessed?
If I am blessed because God chooses to give me these things,
- What about my friends in Russia?
- What about my friends in Brazil who lived in homes with dirt floors and sewage that literally ran into the streets?
- What about my friends on the south side of Anderson who sleep in tents or abandoned barns? Those who have no place to shower and no way to prepare a warm meal each day?
- Is God withholding blessings from them?
- Are they on His bad side?
o Am I blessed and them not?
Don’t get me wrong. I am BLESSED! I thank God for His blessings in my life.
I am grateful for my family, my church, my possessions.
But these things really have little to do with God’s blessings in my life.
***Instead of thanking God for His blessings and meaning the possessions I have…I have learned to begin my prayers with
Thank You, Lord, for this day and the opportunity to live it…
And Your presence with me.
We feel blessed because we are ‘rich’.
I love meeting people with very few possessions who feel rich because they are blessed…blessed to have God is in their lives.
- He walks with them each and every day.
- They know He is always with them. T
- That is their blessing.
***We talk a lot about ‘worship’ and whether it should include a piano and organ or a drum and guitar.
I wish we would concentrate on worship that helps us realize we are blessed because God is right here with us and we should offer praise for that. His presence is our greatest blessing!!!
There are great hymns that make me aware God is right here with me.
There are contemporary choruses that do the same.
I worship in the mountains.
I worship at the sea shore.
I worship at a sun set or a sun rise.
I worship looking up into the stars.
***Worship shouldn’t be about how much I have. Worship is about the fact that God is right here with me, holding me in His hands, leading me through the circumstances of life. I am blessed.
- When I think about someone who worshipped when all his possessions were taken I think about Job…
- Job 13:15…Though He slay me, I still will trust Him.
- It wasn’t about his possessions but about His presence.
- Joseph was from a wealthy family, yet his jealous brothers sold him into slavery.
- He was a servant.
- Was falsely accused.
- Spent time in prison.
- He had a lot of really bad stuff happen to him.
- His ‘Coat of many colors’ became the robe of a servant.
- His nice house became a jail cell.
- He could have easily blamed God for all that was happening to him…but…
- Genesis 50:20 You (His brothers) intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
- Joseph knew his real blessings were the fact thatGod had never left him, that He was working His plan even in the most difficult times.
- David was certainly accustomed to having nice things. He was pretty much used to having whatever he wanted.
- This attitude actually got him in trouble when he decided he wanted Bathsheba as his own.
- You know the story and know that a child was the result of David’s desires.
- I would imagine most of us would be furious with God if He took a child from us. We certainly wouldn’t feel blessed. Worship wouldn’t be our natural response…
- 2 Samuel 12:15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
19 David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped.
- God had taken the child from David…yet God wasstill with David…so he worshipped.
- And think about Abraham.
- Certainly his most prized possession was his son, Isaac, that God had promised him and Sara in their later years of life.
- They had been promised many years previous and eagerly awaited his birth.
- Then God asked Abraham to sacrifice him…
- “But You promised him to us. He’s our only son. You can’t take him away…”
- Genesis 22:1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
You know the story. Abraham and Isaac went to the sacrificial altar. Abraham bound his only son and raised the knife to slay him when the angel stopped him.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
- Even when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son he worshipped…
- Some say Abraham knew Isaac would never be sacrificed because the verse says, “We will return…”
But may I remind you the angel said, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
o Either way, Abraham was willing to worship God’s presence even when asked to sacrifice his only son.
So let me ask you…”When was your last blessing from God?”
Did you stop to think when God last blessed you
with a possession? Or did you say…
Just now…just now…just now.
We are a blessed people, not because we have so many wonderful possessions, but because God is with us.
God is among us.
God is in us.
God is in all at all times so every moment is a blessing
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (We are blessed)
Psalm 139:7-10 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (We are blessed)
Please understand. Blessings are not about possessions but His presence with us.
- I lose a job.
- He is there to help me through.
- I lose a loved one.
- He is there to comfort me.
- My house/car is damaged
- God is still there with me.
- I come down with a serious illness.
- God is with me.
No matter what we lose, no matter what we go through…this life will have many obstacles to overcome…God’s blessing is His presence with us.
Acknowledging this will get us through any circumstance…no matter what we have or don’t have.
Invitation…(The praise team did a great job earlier, but listen again as we play the song…)
I want us to listen to this song again as they play it from the sound booth.
Whatever you do, realize how blessed we are because God is with us.
Realize how blessed you are because God is within you.
Is heaven a big house with lots to eat?
Or is Heaven being in the presence of Jesus?
However you acknowledge the presence of Jesus in your life
Please do so for the next 5 minutes.
“Your Presence Is Heaven To Me.”
Your Presence Is Heaven – Israel Houghton