It’s Christmas Eve. Little ones are so anxious they won’t be able to sleep tonight. They’ve been dreaming, longing, anxiously awaiting the moment when their wildest dreams will be fulfilled on Christmas morning. We want those we love to know how much we love them so we try to find them the perfect gift, the gift that will leave them breathless the moment it is unwrapped. I’ve heard some stories about some pretty extravagant gifts that have been given during past Christmases. For those of you who are still searching for that one perfect gift, the one gift that will be a heart stopper, a breath taker on Christmas morning, I’ve come to help. Continue reading “Christmas Love: The Most Lavish Gift
If you were with us last Sunday we spent our time in God’s Word talking about confession, repentance, and forgiveness. I said that although we’ve done everything in our power to alleviate the word “sin” from our vocabulary we are suffering from the effects of sin each and every day. Guilt and shame gnaw at us, haunt us, affect us spiritually, mentally, and even physically and yet the only remedy the world offers us is to not make such a big deal about what we’ve done or failed to do, to realize everyone does it, and to forgive ourselves. We can follow the world’s counsel, and yet the guilt and shame persists until we agree with God that what we’ve done is sin, that it is something much less than what God desires for us. Following our confession we are then to turn from our sin. When we follow God’s prescription for dealing with our sin then we will receive the forgiveness, the cleansing, that only God can provide. Continue reading “Forgive One Another… How? Why?
This message of the Gospel shall be preached to all nations – then the end will come (Matt. 24:17).
It’s pretty incredible to think, that in our day and age, with so much “connectivity”, so much social interaction, and with the availability of information at our fingertips, there still exists people who have
Christmas can be one of the craziest times of the year. If we were to go back to Thanksgiving, as soon as we left the gathering of our loved ones, many of you already had a list of things to do as long as your arm. You’ve been working, frantically working, to get it all done before you get in your cars and go to grandma’s house or before all of your guests arrive at your house. You hit “Black Friday” to try and find bargains. You penciled in dates on your calendar for office parties, holiday concerts at your kid’s school, and Christmas parties with friends. You made a list of the things you needed to buy for everyone on your list. You adopted a family in our neighborhood who was in need.
Some of you haven’t had time to make out a list because you’ve been so pressed by the urgency of the moment that you had to turn away from the minutiae of the extraneous trappings of Christmas just to make it through the day. You’ve got family problems that are keeping you up at night. You’ve got relationships that are strained and broken. You are drowning in a sea of debt. This will be your first Christmas spent alone while your “ex” has your kids. This will be your first Christmas spent without…you fill in the blank. You’ve gone from work to the hospital so many times you’ve lost count and you are worn out. There’s just so much going on that you’ve had little time to even think about the real meaning of Christmas. Continue reading “We’ve Come to Worship Him!
Every year, sometime around Thanksgiving, the reports start rolling in about how some are disturbed about the message of Christmas. We hear about another store won’t allow their employees to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas.” ESPN got in on the conversation this year. First they said they wouldn’t show a commercial for the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital because of the line, “We celebrate the birth of Jesus.” Then they reversed their decision and now they will show it. We hear about another policy being implemented by a school district canceling Christmas parties and announcing the date of the “Holiday” party, another city won’t allow the public display of a Nativity scene, and the American Atheists roll out a new campaign to slam Jesus and His followers. This year is not any different than years gone by. I saw an ad, produced by the American Atheists that was showing in Times Square in New York City last week. Let me show it to you.
Some folks are just not happy about Christmas are they? Can I share a secret with you? That was the case long ago when the announcement of Jesus’ birth was first made. At the time of Jesus’ birth, Herod wasn’t happy about the announcement at all. Turn to Matthew 2 with me and let’s read the Scripture together.
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:1-3 NIV)
The Magi, in their enthusiasm and excitement had traveled from the east to see the One who was born king of the Jews, but when Herod heard the news he was “disturbed.” Herod was disturbed. Not only was Herod disturbed, but we read at the end of verse 3 that he wasn’t the only one who was disturbed. Matthew says that among those who were disturbed were “all Jerusalem with him.” There were lots of folks disturbed about the announcement of Jesus’ birth. The Greek word that Matthew uses, which is translated, “disturbed,” is the word, “???????” (tarasso). The word means, “to agitate, to stir up, or to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread.” What was it that Herod feared? Why was he so stirred up when he heard about the One who was born king of the Jews? That’s a great question that has so much application for our own lives if we will take the time to learn. Continue reading “Who Needs Christ During Christmas?
It’s Christmas Eve. The night in which little kids are filled with anticipation, waiting, wondering, expecting that things are going to turn out and Christmas morning will be filled with everything they’ve hoped for. It’s Christmas Eve. The night in which moms and dads are filled with excitement about seeing the looks on the faces of their kids when Christmas morning arrives and joy fills their living room like the morning sun. Those are beautiful pictures of what’s to come for some. If that describes you and your family tonight then be grateful, treasure these moments these gifts from God.
For others Christmas Eve finds you staring into space trying to find a reason to carry on. For some this night is filled with anxiety, sadness, sorrow, anger, or despair. You find yourself between a rock and a hard place and there doesn’t seem to be any way out. I’m so glad that you’ve come tonight because God has a very unique gift for you. A gift that you will never find on any shelf in any store or wrapped under any tree. For those who find themselves between a rock and a hard place, filled with sorrow, or paralyzed by fear of what the future holds—I want to introduce you to a friend. Continue reading “Immanuel: God is With Us!
This morning we are taking a look at the Sixth Choice in our effort to overcome our hurts, hang-ups, and habits. In January, when we launch Celebrate Recovery here at Britton Christian Church, those who will be part of this powerful ministry will work together in moving through the 8 Choices of recovery. This morning we are going to take a look at the sixth choice, which is, “Evaluate all my relationships: Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.” This sixth choice is based on Jesus’ words found in Matthew 5:7 and Matthew 5:9. Jesus said,
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7 NIV)
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9 NIV)
Relationships are tough aren’t they? It’s not difficult to damage relationships. The ingredients that make up the recipe for broken, damaged relationships are quite simple: Words and actions. Add them in generous amounts, stir in some anger, pride, and animosity. In no time you will watch before your eyes the disintegration of the intimacy you once shared with your family member, co-worker, classmate, or friend. That’s it. It’s not complex. It doesn’t take a college degree. No training is necessary. From the time we are born we instinctively hold within our grasp the power to damage the relationships we share in life.
There are times in each of our lives when we know exactly what we are doing. We know that the words we are about to speak will be hurtful and not helpful. We know that what we are about to do will not benefit those that we love, but we want to do it anyway. There are other times in life when we don’t mean to hurt anyone, but what we say and the things we do alienate us from those around us. As I said, it’s not difficult to damage relationships. Continue reading “Cut and Run or Reconcile?
Have you ever seen the television series “Hoarders” that airs on the A&E network? It is amazing to see how folks can collect so much junk in their homes that they can’t even get around. Their kitchens are overflowing with piles and piles of dishes, old boxes, kitchen appliances that haven’t worked in years, and much more. There is no way you can cook in the kitchen of a hoarder. There is no way to live, really live, in the living room of a hoarder because hoarders never let go of anything. In the living room of a hoarder you will find every television set they’ve ever owned. There are piles and piles of TV Guides from years and years ago. Do they even publish TV Guide anymore? Plates of food enjoyed dating back to ballgames from years ago are tucked under the coffee table. The list of the junk that fills the living room of a hoarder is endless. There is no place to sit down in the living room of a hoarder because junk occupies every square inch of space. There is no way you could ever get a good night’s sleep in the bedroom of a hoarder because the piles and piles of clothes, hangers, books, broken furniture, and boxes and boxes of items being saved for who-knows-what-reason fills the room. I don’t watch “Hoarders” every week, but I’ve seen enough of the episodes to know that the folks who live in these conditions are not really living. They are prisoners in their own home.
I was thinking about the people whose stories are told each week on the television series as I was working on our lesson for today because I see some similarities between hoarders and us. Our lesson this morning is “Coming Clean.” Our lesson is not about making sure we practice good hygiene in our homes so that we can provide sanitary surroundings for ourselves and our families, although that is a great idea. Our lesson this morning is about the junk that we collect as we go through life. Junk like shame and guilt brought on because of what we have done or failed to do. This kind of junk suffocates us, paralyzes us, stymies our growth, and keeps us from living the abundant life that God desires for each of us to live. Continue reading “Coming Clean
Most of us dream of a life free from pain. “Pain” is an experience that is shared by all people. At the same time, there is nothing that we work harder at than to try and free ourselves from pain. If we can’t figure a way out of the pain, if we can’t stop the pulsating reminders that we are hurting, then we turn to other options to deal with our pain. We want something that will distract us or numb us to the pain that we experience in life.
It is so important for you and me to understand the biblical teaching that our God is a God of purpose. He loves you and me so much that He desires to use every experience we have in life, the pleasurable and the painful, to draw us to Him and to shape us into the people that He desires for us to become. As much as we desire the pleasurable experiences and try with all of our might to avoid the painful experiences, we need to recognize that it is in the painful experiences that God can do some of His greatest work in each of our lives. C. S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures…but shouts in our pain. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Continue reading “God Can Use Our Pain to Bring About Change
You would never know it by talking to us, but we’ve got a problem and the problem is us. Everyone has problems. Everyone struggles with problems. The difference between the point I am trying to make and the description of “problems” as most people would describe them is this: Most people see their problems caused by a source lying “outside” of them, while I believe that God’s Word teaches that the root of the vast majority of our problems lies within us. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.
In the opening pages of God’s Word we find that God created Adam and Eve. He placed them in the most beautiful garden that the Lord had created. They had free rein of the garden except for one tree that the Lord told them they could not eat from—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 3, the serpent appears on the scene and begins to talk to Eve. He said, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 NIV) Eve was paying attention when God gave Adam and Eve instructions on what they could and could not do in the garden. I know that because when the serpent quizzed Eve, she responded with precision concerning what God had said. Eve told the serpent.
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” (Genesis 3:2-3 NIV)
Continue reading “We’ve Got a Problem