*The circumstances of life will change, but if you are a believer one thing that will never change is your union with Christ!
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
I. You must focus your heart on Christ
The first step on finding out what it means to love God is looking at how God loves us.
II. You must forsake sin.
You can’t love sinning and love Jesus at the same time
A. You are dead to sin
B. Sin disrupts fellowship with God
It is not God who refuses to be in the presence of us and our sin, it is we who refuse to be with God when we sin.
III. You have found new life in Christ.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
We often try to attain Christ by good works or attain joy by sinful pleasures. Once you are saved, Jesus Christ has already given Himself to you and He is the source of joy.
Surrendering often has the result of you simply being faithful where you are at.
The true measure of success in the Christian life is faithfulness and obedience to the Lord.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
I Corinthians 11:23-26
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.”
I. A POINTED REMINDER
The Lords Table is not another holiday meal we simply consume, it’s a holy meal designed to remind us of Christ’s sacrifice.
II. A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP
A. Inner relationship with Christ
B. Interpersonal relationship with others
I Corinthians 10:17
“For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
III. A PRACTICAL RESPONSE
I Corinthians 11:28
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
The purpose of examination is participation!
I have asked the Lord to take from me the super sensitivity that robs the soul of joy and peace and causes fellowship to cease.
Your level of humility will determine the depths of your happiness.
The message of Christmas is not one of condemnation but reconciliation. It is a message of celebration for salvation has come!
II. GIVE THE GRACE OF CHRISTMAS
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
We who have been redeemed by the grace of God should reach out with grace to others!
III. SHARE THE GOOD NEWS OF CHRISTMAS
Jesus, the prince of peace, offers permanent and perfect peace to all who will come to him.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
“In short, Jesus is the divine light of the world because he brings a new life to replace our spiritual deadness, because he shows us the truth that heals our spiritual blindness, and because he is the beauty that breaks our addictions to money, sex, and power. He is the Light for us when all other lights go out.” Tim Keller
II Corinthians 4:4-6
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
What brings us together in cooperate worship is Jesus and what He has done, continues to do and has promised to do!
Christmas is a time to not only rejoice in what Christ has already done but to remember that there is far more to come!
I. PREPARE TO WELCOME THE KING
The true fulfillment of Christmas doesn’t happen on Christmas day, we have something much bigger and better to look forward to; the baby points to the coming King!
Jesus came the first time as a lamb slain for the sins of the world but he is coming the second time as a lion to judge and rule the world!
II. A NEW SONG FOR A BROKEN WORLD
The world needs to hear the sound and songs of hope from people who have peace and joy in world that is hurting and hopeless!
People who have been set free, SING!
III. GOD IS WORKING ALL THINGS FOR HIS GLORY
Romans 8:22, 23
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
“Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.”
All the ways of man are going to be proven wrong!
IV. EXPERIENCE THE WONDER OF GOD’S LOVE
I John 3:1
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:”
The wonder of Christmas is that the love of the Father can be experienced right now!
Joy to the world the Lord has come and joy to the world He is coming again!
Self-control is the spirit given ability to control our sinful passions and pursuits.
II Peter 1:5-9
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”
Self-control is not some higher form of behavior modification, it is the moment by moment reminder that we are to be living under the control of the Holy Spirit.
I. Self-control Is Activated Through Submission To The Spirit
Self-control does not happen automatically but is an action produced within us as we yield control to the inner working of the Spirit.
“Self-control does involve effort of the will, but it is an effort inspired and empowered by the Spirit of God as His will bears fruit in our will.” C. Wright
II. Essential Areas Of Self-control
The tongue has caused more damage and done untold destruction to the cause of Christ and testimony of the Church.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”
For the believer we are to be living for the Lord and under the control of the Spirit.
“God’s purpose is to make us like Christ, and God’s way is to fill us with His Holy Spirit.” John Stott
While it is certain that we are not Christ and can never be Him; we have been given the Holy Spirit and we have all we need to be like Him.
God placed the glorious message of Christ’s birth into the mouth of the most unlikely messengers.
I. The Good News Of Christmas
The good news of Christmas is that God loves the most unlovely and lowest of people.
While the world may label you the good news of Christmas is that God loves you!
“And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”
“For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”
II. The Great Joy Of Jesus
Joy is never found in human presents but in the Heavenly gift of God’s Son Jesus!
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
On that first Christmas night God was fulfilling His promise and making it possible for us to experience eternal and life changing Joy!
Eternal and everlasting joy becomes our reality the moment we accept God’s greatest gift!
Christmas is the proof of a promise fulfilled in Jesus and the hope of a greater future for all mankind.
"Mild he lays his Glory by
Born that Men no more may die
Born to raise the Sons of Earth
Born to give them second Birth"
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus in his humanity and deity came to Earth to fix once and for all the sin problem!
III. The Gospel Message Still Needs Proclaimed
The message of the Gospel must still come through the mouths of normal everyday people whose lives have been changed by Gospel!
II Corinthians 4:5-7
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”