Ready or Not, Here I Come!

Title: Ready or Not, Here I Come!

Bible Book: Luke 2

Author: Frank Page

Subject: Christmas



For many Christmas is a sad time rather than a glad time. Psychiatrists are busier following Christmas and New Year’s than at any other time of the year. It is said that the psychiatric rooms at our hospitals are more likely to be filled to capacity at that time of the year than at any other period. Perhaps this is due to the fact that many people are reminded of how empty and meaningless life without God has become for them. Jesus came into the world to bring joy. He came to communicate love. He came to make peace possible.

A part of the joy of Christmas is the joy of receiving. Many people have never learned how to graciously and humbly receive from others. There are many who cannot believe that God is the great Giver. Perhaps this is due to a low sense of self-esteem and a feeling of great unworthiness. Some are unable to accept a gift from others without trying to repay them in some form or another. There is no way that one can truly experience the richest joy of Christmas unless he develops the fine art of learning how to be a grateful receiver.

The grandmother took little Ann along on a shopping trip. After watching her grandmother choose  and buy gifts all morning, Ann was taken for her promised visit to Santa Claus. She made her requests politely, and as she started to leave the jolly gentleman handed her a large candy cane. “What do you say?” prompted the grandmother. Little Ann furrowed her brows in thought, then smiled brightly and announced, “Charge it!”

Another of the great joys of Christmas is the joy of giving. A shopping mall once held a contest. Patrons were asked to describe the meaning of Christmas in25words or less. How would you answer? Here is the best . . . John 3:16. God so loved that He gave. God is generous, gracious, even extravagant in His gifts. To experience gracious, undeserved giving is a shocking experience to those who have built their lives upon the development of their acquisitive instinct. Many never enter into   the joy of Christmas because they have become like Scrooge. They live only to get.

The angels sang about the possibility of a great joy that could come to those who would properly recognize and respond to what God was doing in the gift of the Christ child. Turn with me to Luke 2:9- 11.

I. The Joy Of Christmas Is The Joy Of Knowing That God Is For Us

Living in a “performance-oriented society” in which success is judged on the basis of performance and in which rewards are bestowed in recognition of achievement, some find it difficult to believe that God is a gracious and loving Giver.

A sense of guilt often brings an attitude of self-condemnation, and we find ourselves unable to believe that the great God who gave the Ten Commandments and who spoke through Christ the words of the Sermon on the Mount is really for us.

Listen to this in Romans 8:31-32, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

The whole message of Christmas is intended to declare that God always has been for us and always will be for us if we will but trust him and let the Christ have the place that by right belongs to Him in our lives. In a world where many are saying, “Count me out,” God is saying in the Christmas experience, “Count me in.”

Verse 10 says we are the recipients of this good news ... let us see that God is for us. We are determined to have a happy world, even if it kills us. Hundreds of books have been written on “how to be happy.” In our “happiness” however, much of our laughter is hollow for our world seems to pay off in counterfeit pleasures.

Even Christmas has become a hollow, sad, unfulfilling time for millions. Our way of life can be summed up in this advertisement from a department store. It said, “Do you want to keep Christmas with you all year long . . . buy things on our monthly payment plan.”

Jesus came and preached “Good News.” Everywhere he went, he left happiness behind. He described the Christian life as a wedding party, as the joy of unearthing a pearl of great price, as a wayward son restored to the delights of home. Thus he gave to every generation of his followers a new kind of gladness, based on the knowledge that God is for us.

II. The Joy of Christmas Is The Joy of Belonging to The Family of God

Christmas is usually a family-oriented affair. For some this can be a painful experience, while to many it is indeed a joyous and pleasant experience. At Christmastime many are deprived of the joys of family relationships because of deaths that have taken place or because great distances separate them from the members of their families. At such a time we need to recognize and respond to the  joys of being a member of the family of God. We enter this family through the spiritual birth (John 1:12).We stand in amazement before the joy of knowing that now we are the children of God (I John 3:1-2). The message of Christmas makes this possible, v. 11 . . . born to you this day a Savior. . .

Notice carefully that this message promises true salvation for anyone, for He is a “Savior” who is “Christ” the “Lord.” This means that He is a deliverer who will lead us out of bondage in obedience to his sovereign lordship. The miracle of Christmas is that God came to participate in our deepest dilemma. In the incarnation, Christ grappled decisively with sin at the level where we live, and forever offers men the strength of his conquest over it.

It is that wonderful work which enables our entry into His family. At Christmastime let us rejoice more in the family of God than we do in earthly family relationships.

III. The Joy Of Christmas Is The Joy Of Experiencing Liberation From Fear

Look again at v. 10. It was normal and proper for the shepherds to respond to the presence of the Shekinah glory of God with a holy awe and a reverential fear. The angels spoke words to dispel that fear. Christmas can bring the joy of letting us know that we need not live our lives under the tyranny of fear.

We need not be afraid of the past. Through Jesus Christ we receive forgiveness for all of our sins (I John 1:9).

Chester Holmes wrote that “an amazing sight to behold is a circus elephant chained to a bamboo stick! Here is a gigantic creature, possessing the power to tear down whole buildings or devastate the entire circus lot, tethered to a small bamboo stick driven carelessly into the ground not more than several inches. But there he will stay, never to move, chained to a stick. It seems that the elephant is captive to a habit he developed as a small calf. When young, the elephant was chained daily to a  steel pole driven into the ground ten feet. No amount of motion could affect his release. After months of trying he gave in to being chained and stopped trying to break the hold on him. As a full grown elephant he is chained to a stick, but he thinks he is chained to a steel pole.

For some folks the Christian experience is much the same. They are possessed of the greatest liberating power in the whole universe, the redeeming power of Jesus Christ, yet are “staked out” in life by habits, traditions, and routine that could easily be broken by invoking God’s power over them. God’s power is the power to change bad habits, to renew and enliven traditions, and to place us on the path to complete spiritual renewal and growth. A Christian should never be chained to a stick! Because of the promise of His abiding presence, we need have no fear in the present. Our living Lord has promised to be with us day by day as the Light of the World.

When we follow Him we do not stumble in the darkness. We need have no fear of the future because our Lord has promised to prepare a place for those who love Him (John 14:1-3).We can live our lives with fullness of joy if we will recognize Jesus as the great Liberator and Deliverer from fear.

IV. The Joy Of Christmas Is The Joy Of Givers

Many of us today are unhappy because of our inability to give some things we would like to give. That’s natural, but what do we have?

We can give the gift of our faith to those who have not yet come to know Jesus Christ as Savior.

We can share the testimony of what He has come to mean to us and encourage others to put their confidence in Him.

We can give the gift of helpfulness to those about us who carry heavy burdens. We can give the gift of encouragement to those who are depressed.

We can give the gift of friendship to those with whom we are associated. We can give the gift of forgiveness to those who have mistreated us.

We can give the gift of acceptance and affirmation to those who are uncertain and insecure.

We can give the gift of kindness to those who are suffering physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

We can give the gift of gratitude to those who have been kind to us and to those who have ministered to others.

All of this is possible because of that great gift God has given to us - His beautiful Son.

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