Well as We Gather today, we are only 4 days past Christmas Day. Most of us have eaten a little too much of those special Christmas Foods. who hasn't right? We have given and received gifts and some have already cleaned up the mess of wrapping paper and packages and others left the house this morning thinking what a mess. Some of you have already begun the process of packing away your Christmas decorations. Some of you were thinking about it and others of you like me are waiting for the 12 Days of Christmas to be over before packing away the stockings and trim and the attic for another year.
Why is my walk through stores during the holiday season? I noticed that hurried and harried look on many of the faces of the people and I heard more than once a I just can't wait for this all to be over. Especially the cashiers. They couldn't wait for it all to be over and then they get the returns. So good luck on that one. But when I hear statements like that, I wonder if they placed Christmas in its proper place. Do they understand what Christmas is all about? Or is it simply a time to overindulge spend more money than they can afford and just to go through the motions of Celebration.
But that is not what Christmas is all about. If you're gathered here today, I am sure that you would least have an understanding of what Christmas is all about in your head. The children already showed us that this morning but have we allowed that knowledge to move from our heads to our hearts. To really allow that knowledge of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ to permeate our very being so that we can be refreshed and renewed and made ready to serve him more fully as we continue through our journey of faith. Now before we go any further. I would like to draw our minds and our hearts back to Bethlehem. And once again with the words of the Gospel of Luke here now Luke Chapter 2 verses 1 through 20, and I'm reading from the new King James Version.
It came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. This census first took place while cranius was governor of Syria. So all went to be registered everyone's was on City. Joseph also went up From Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea to the city of David. Which is called Bethlehem because he was at the house and lineage of David to be registered with Mary is betrothed wife was with child. So it was that while they were there the days were completed for her to be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a Manger because there was no room for them in the end. Now there were in the same country Shepherds living out in the fields keeping watch over their flock by night and behold an angel of the Lord stood before then and the glory of the Lord Shone around them and they were greatly afraid then the angel said to them do not be afraid for behold. I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people were there is born to you this day in the city of David a savior who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you. You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in a manger and the suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God and saying glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace Goodwill towards all people. So it was when the Angels had gone away from them into a heaven that the shepherd said to one another let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass which the Lord has made known to us and they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a Manger. Now when they had seen him they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this child and all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the Shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the Shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen as it was told to them.
The word of God for the people of God.
Well, this is the story that changed the world because it is the story of The God Who became man that he might touch and change the hearts of all those who will receive them. But is also our story is a story of our lives that makes all the difference in the world is the story that calls us not to live in fear, but to live with a holy challenge that calls us to get up from the mundane events of life and seek the Lord.
It is a story that calls us to allow Christ to come in and turn our world on its head to allow him to change the way we look at the world and to pay more than a cursory attention to him. It is a story that calls us to a life of worship a life of glorifying and praising God for all he has done.
both the gospel lesson in the song call us to
to put fear behind us and to trust in the power and care of another.
I love the first verse of the song. We're considering today as a little boy holds tightly to an old ladder and shouts dad have no fear every time I hear that I have to chuckle and it was a little hard not to just start laughing in the middle of the song.
Can you picture this in your mind's eye a little boy Not Strong by the world standards who's using all the strength? He has to try and keep his dad safe while at the same time calming. His father's fear of falling to me. That is the perfect picture of the Christ child talk about reversing roles a little child born in a stable come into the world to calm our fears and to keep our souls Safe in His care.
When the Angels Came to the Shepherds who were greatly afraid they called on them to put their fears away to trust in God who has come into the world as Christ the Lord this theme of putting away fear and stepping out in faith is common in the Christmas story and in all the scriptures.
We see it in the story of the Annunciation to Mary when the angel came to Mary to tell her of God's call on her life to be the mother of the savior. He called her to leave fear behind and a step out in faith when the angel came to Joseph and called him to leave fear behind and to step out in faith and follow the call of God on his life to raise the Savior as his own son when he came when we come to faith in Christ. The spirit of fear that is ruled over our lives is meant to be left behind.
As we now live out our new life and faith. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power love and self-discipline. I also love this one for Philippians 4 do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with Thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. We also hear this call from Christ himself in Luke chapter 12, then Jesus said to his disciples. Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life. What you eat or what your what are about your body. What you will wear life is more than food and the body more than clothes consider the Ravens they do not. sew or reap they have no storeroom or barn
Yet God feeds them and how much more valuable you are than Birds who of You by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Nobody could take a few off since you cannot do this. Very little thing. Why do you worry about the rest? Is that good?
I love those words of Jesus you'll fear is really a normal part of human existence and a many times controls Our Lives the decisions. We make the work we do with the ministry's we get involved with all can be and are often affected by fear. But God calls us out of our fear into a Victorious Life live for him and through him. I have a friend that I served on it on the Pals task force with for a number of years when we were in Olney Pals was a a group of people were trying to help keep the kids of our high school and junior high off of drugs and to make better choices when it comes to other areas of their lives while the leader that group was B Gardner.
In our last year in Olney became to one of armies and she said when we were resigning as the chair of this committee, we none of us one or two. She said will you see there's a calling on my life from God and I'm selling everything except for just my house and a few meager possessions and then I'm going on the mission field for a little while when I come back. I will continue to be in Mission work.
I got to tell you that first year for her was difficult and she tried to raise the funds and do all that need to be done and several times over the years you put out a call for a little extra help. You know what she was doing Christmas day. She was in downtown St. Louis serving meals to homeless people in one of the most dangerous areas of st. Louis.
Why did she do it?
Because she had allowed the power of God in her life. Overcome all our fears.
She allowed the power of God in her life to move her from the comfortable place. She was with her job that was quite lucrative to a place where she is living just barely barely above those who she is now serving because she has a place to live but there are weeks there are months when buying groceries a little difficult.
But God always provides.
Be stepped out even in fear to serve our Lord and she's doing a wonderful job of it.
Oh that we might have that kind of Courage. There is a Victorious Life to be lived when we no longer allow fear to control us the possible causes of anxiety and fear are mini conflict health problems dangerous situations death unmet needs spiritual problems false belief in the list goes on sometimes. It's just we don't know what's going to happen. So we're a little afraid to step out.
Dr. Gary Collins in his book Christian Counseling speaks of this listen to what he has to say. According to the Bible. There is nothing wrong with realistically acknowledging and trying to deal with the identifiable problems of life to ignore dangerous foolish and wrong, but it is also wrong as well as unhealthy to be immobilized by excessive worry.
Such worry must be committed in prayer to God who can release us from paralyzing fear or anxiety and free us to deal realistically with a needs and Welfare both of others and ourselves.
you commit your fears to prayer and then allow God to take the reins. You see only Christ can lead us away from a life of fear into a life of Victorious living if your wave down with fear anxiety and worry, you just might need to allow the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and life to see what the cause of your fear is. And then lead you out of that fear into obedience in the spirits examination. He may find some sin in our lives that we have failed to adequately deal with. Sometimes fear and anxiety are the result of sin and guilt in our lives. If we have unrepentant sin in our lives can cause fear and anxiety that leads us away from the blessings of God in Christ. Sometimes it's just that we're just really fearful of someone finding out about it.
But God already knows so think about that one for a minute who you think you're hiding it from. Oh, maybe friends and family, maybe even try to hide it from yourself. But God already knows and times we don't even recognize this and that and that is holding us back because we have buried it so far down in our hearts are rationalized it away. Well, is it really a sin?
What are used to give the talk at junior high camp? I always got the question from some get in the room while how far is too far. My answer always was if you have to ask it's probably already too far.
If you that's kind of way it is with our sin sometimes. Oh we'll head into something will go. Well, you know, it's not that bad.
Then we go a little bit further a little bit further and we continue to rationalize until we're lost.
We need not do that instead. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to dig deep into our hearts and lives to look at our inner being and see where that sin is and then allow him through our surrender.
In obedience to remove that and move us on. Our fear can also be caused from not considering our own personal needs now, wait a minute. I know I just talked about selfishness few minutes ago would be right now. I'm telling you you're supposed to consider your own personal needs.
Believe me. It's not contradictory. The world likes to make us think it is because if we think it's contradictory, we just won't do anything will we see the truth?
Sometimes we take a good spiritual care of ourselves, but seemed to leave the care of our body to good genes and chance. This is not the intention of God for us. God gave us his body and he intends for us to take care of it because we only get One Life to Live and get one body to live that life in and if we don't take care of it and destroy it.
Well, that's the end of that isn't it when we have destroyed the temple that is our body or life is over. I understand even as I say these words that the holy spirit is constantly speaking to me about my own health, and so I'm working on it.
Can you say you're working on it? Are you I'm working on it. I haven't got all As far as I'd like to there sometimes it takes a lot of prayer not to eat that cookie.
It does sometimes it takes a lot of prayer not to eat 15 slices of pizza. I'm just being honest with you.
You see what we don't understand is that our physical self is not just an attachment. We are not a spirit with a body. That's a heresy by the way, that's being taught throughout the church today. We are not just a spirit inhabiting a body that is not true. That is nonsense. It comes from Eastern mysticism. And the next time you hear a pastor say it. Well don't shout out of heresy. But in your heart go, that's heresy. I'll talk to him or her later. Okay, and then would respect go up and tell him you're a heretic.
Oh no, come on.
I do it. I didn't my friend Bev. I just did it in a little bit more diplomatic way than that.
You see God created us not as a spirit with a body but as a whole being. Body soul mind Spirit. We are a whole being and he wants us to care for the whole being because when we care for the whole being then we will be able to Greater serve him. I learned far too late that Ministry can be hindered by a lack of taking care of the instrument of that Ministry.
And that goes for everyone of us because each believer is a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So the new year is just a few days away, right? And we tend to make those New Year resolutions. Tell me all get to the second week anybody get to the second week?
I got one sometimes from Becky.
Yeah, because we don't take him seriously this year. I invite you to something.
Make it a matter of prayer that you'll take better care of yourselves for the sake of the Gospel.
In the coming year that you'll work on your physical being so that your spiritual being can Thrive and do ministry.
The Apostle Paul spoke to this area of the body in 1st Corinthians 6:19 to 2008 Peterson renders. This didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place the place of the Holy Spirit
Don't you see that? You can't live. However you please just wondering what God paid such a high price for. The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. Owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.
The scripture says that I believe it and I'm trying to live that way.
Once I read through the gospel lesson today. I see a perfect picture of obedience and God's call in the lives of those we encounter and both the gospel and the lessons and the song that we sang today call us to a life of obedience in the song. We hear the father explaining the need for obedience to God as followers of Jesus Christ all year long tis. The season to obey obedience is a hard thing in our lives. We are not naturally inclined to obedience. Are we
If you ever raise a child? are the naturally blind obedience?
You ever have a dog or the natural and inclined to obedience. No.
The Christmas story is full of the blessings of obedience and Luke. 1:38. Mary responded to the word of the Angel by saying I am the Lord's servant May everything you have said about me come true. Mary was obedient to the call of God on her life. And the rest of human existence. She is called blessed
Luke 1:45 says blessed. Is she who believed for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord in the song of Mary Mary prophetically proclaims from now on all generations will call me blessed for the mighty one is holy and he has done great things to me.
Blessings come from obedience god promise this blessing in exchange for obedience going all the way back into the Old Testament, but understand God's promises are for those who trust in him from generation to generation.