MERRY CHRISTMAS

HOW CAN  I HAVE A TRULY MERRY CHRISTMAS?

       Merry Christmas From our home to yours.

Merry Christmas
From our home to yours.

Christmas time is a wonderful time of the year.  It is a time when the thoughts of the world can be turned to the incarnation of Christ.  Sad to say that far too often it becomes a time of stress, sadness and heartache.  I’m told that there are more suicides during the Christmas season than any other time of the year. It is a time of loneliness for many.  It is a time of grieving the loss of loved ones that we celebrated Christmas with on many previous occasions.  It is a time where the real Spirit of Christmas is forgotten and many turn to alcoholic spirits instead.  There is more to Christmas than Santa, snowmen, getting gifts, and bright lights.

I will give you a three simple thoughts.  With a little thinking I am sure you could come up with many more reasons to be positive and joyful.  While reading the Biblical accounts of the Christmas story from from the gospels and references to his coming from other places in Scripture be looking for motivation.  For example, read Luke chapter 2 and see how many challenges you can find to rejoice, share, be thankful, etc.

1. LIKE THE ANGLES BE EXCITED ABOUT ANNOUNCING HIS COMING

The world needs to know that God has sent His only begotten son to pay our sin debt.  That is reason for great peace and joy.  We have the opportunity to tell those we come in contact with the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  Many are extremely sad at Christmas time because of the loss of loved ones.  They remember former days when they spent this time of year with those loved ones. You and I can remind them that because God gave His Son we can have the hope of seeing our loved ones again.

2. LIKE JOSEPH BELIEVE GOD (take Him at His Word)

It is not difficult to understand why when Joseph first heard Mary was expecting that he determined to put her away.  He could have made her a public example but was thinking of doing it privately.  Joseph was a man of character.  He would be a good character study for young men and boys today.  He provided for and protected his family.  He took God at His word.  He actively participated in his faith.  His profession was one that demanded hard work. He was a just man that obeyed the Lord.

When Joseph was visited by the angel of the Lord. He immediately obeyed believing the explanation given.  He proved by his actions that he not only believed in God.  He actually believed God.  Today I am afraid that we have too many professing Christians that give God lip service but not life service.

Christmas is a great time to check your faith.  Are you increasing in faith,  or are you living a fearful or cynical life?  Spend some time in the Bible.  Go to church every time there is a service.  Expect God to give you something from His Word.  When He does (and He will) believe Him,  Take action based on what God speaks to your heart about.  There is great fulfillment and satisfaction in knowing and doing the will of God.

3. LIKE THE WISE MEN GIVE HIM GIFTS

The gifts themselves would be a wonderful story, but I want to emphasize the giving.  God  the greatest giver set the example by giving the greatest gift, Jesus.  Jesus willingly gave Himself for us.  Eternal life, the Holy Spirit, and grace to mention just a few of the many things that are all wrapped up in the package of Salvation are made available to us by our great loving Heavenly Father.  The wise men realizing that Jesus Christ was more than just another baby are examples to us of giving.

They gave their time, there energies and their resources to Jesus.  Would it not make this Christmas a more joyful and merry Christmas if we would give ourselves more completely to Him.  We could start by giving our time.  Being faithful to church services and having times alone with God as well as family time with God would be great places to start.  Then move on to giving him of your energies in prayer and service.  Surely there is some need in your church that you could meet.  There are folks in your circle of influence or that live on your street that could use some service in Jesus name (up to and including giving the Gospel message).  Then what about your resources.  I am dumbfounded to explain why people don’t honor God with the tithe (10% of your gross income).  It is amazing to me why everyone that is saved would not tithe and then give as generously as possible offerings above the tithe to reach the world of people that Jesus died for.

CLOSING THOUGHTS 

Think of some unique ways you can “Make Much Of Jesus” during this Christmas season.  I ran across some great Christmas tracts that I’m handing out to friends and strangers.  As I do I say something like, “Can I give you this Christmas Card?  It has some Bible verses in it that I know you will enjoy.  If God then gives me an opening I attempt to lead them to Christ on the spot.  A second thing Nancy and I did in trying to have an impact for Christ on our neighborhood  that Christmas gives us opportunity to do was have a 12′ x 3′ banner made.  We then placed it  on the side of our house and put a spot light on it so that the people coming and going would make no mistake about our desire to tell them about the Saviour.  I changed the masthead of this web site for Christmas and placed a copy of the banner there.

I pray that God will bless you and use you in a great way this Christmas season.  Let’s lift up our Saviour and have a very Merry Christmas

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A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST

In the army of the Lord we need to be good soldiers and we need to train good soldiers.  I see today many who are looking for the comfort zone.  Many are on continual R & R.  They never confront the enemy.  They never rescue the perishing.  They take the path of political correctness and safety.

I do believe there is a Master’s Minority in all our churches that would rise up, put on the armor of God and get in the battle for righteousness.  They would look to the to our Commander in Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ.  They would have His passion for the lost.

Below are a few thoughts on some Bible characteristics of a good soldier.  I’m sure there are many more that could be added.  Let’s get busy doing the work of a good soldier of Jesus Christ and then recruiting additional soldiers for the spiritual warfare we are in.

1. A GOOD SOLDIER HAS LEARNED TO ENDURE HARDNESS – (2 Timothy 2:3)  “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”   Christian Life is not simply a Sunday School picnic  (1 Samuel 17:29)  “And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”

2. HE AVOIDS DISTRACTING ENTANGLEMENTS – (2 Timothy 2:4a) “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life;…” that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

3. A GOOD SOLDIER DESIRES TO PLEASE HIS SUPERIOR – (2 Timothy 2:4b-5)  “… that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.”

4. A GOOD SOLDIER REALIZES SOME BATTLES ARE WORTH FIGHTING – (1 Timothy 6:12)  “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses”

5. A GOOD SOLDIER IS READY TO DIE – (2 Timothy 4:6)  “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”

6. A GOOD SOLDIER HAS A FIGHTING FINISHING FAITH  –  (2 Timothy 4:7)  “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

7. A GOOD SOLDIER WILL BE REWARDED – (2 Timothy 4:8) “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

BUILDING BOLDNESS IN YOUR LIFE

(2 Timothy 1:7)  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

I am convinced that many people who do not witness for the Lord Jesus are paralyzed with fear.  It is not that they don’t love the Lord.  It is not that they don’t care about the lost.  It is simply that they have allowed the devil to intimidate them.  What most of us need is an infusion of boldness.  Boldness that only the Lord can give us.  I want to give you a few thoughts that have helped me to begin growing in boldness.  If you have time to meditate on them and take action by faith, I believe God could help you too.    

GOD HAS TOLD US WE DON’T HAVE TO BE CONTROLLED BY FEAR… I’VE BEEN TOLD THAT THERE ARE 365 FEAR NOTS IN THE BIBLE.  ONE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.  

I trust that the seven points below will help you like they helped me when someone shared them with me.  Develop some thoughts for each point.  Preach it.  Teach it.  Practice it.

1. BOLDNESS THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS

(Proverbs 28:1)  “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

2. BOLDNESS THROUGH SPENDING TIME WITH JESUS

(Acts 4:13)  “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

3. BOLDNESS THROUGH PRAYER

(Acts 4:29)  “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,”

(Ephesians 6:18-20)  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; {19} And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, {20} For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

4. BOLDNESS THROUGH SPIRIT FULLNESS

(Acts 4:31)  “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

5. BOLDNESS THROUGH PURPOSE 

(Acts 13:45-47)  “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. {46} Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. {47} For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”

THESE MEN KNEW THEY WERE DOING GOD’S WILL.  GETTING GOD’S WORD OUT WAS NOT AN OPTION WITH THEM… “IT WAS NECESSARY”

6. BOLDNESS THROUGH THE BIBLE

(Acts 14:3)  “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

7. BOLDNESS BY FAITH

(2 Timothy 1:7)  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

(1 John 4:17)  “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”

HYMAN APPLEMAN GAVE ME THIS ONE

God has blessed me in many ways with a wonderful family and the opportunity to serve Him in full time service. I have had the opportunity to spend time alone with many of the great men of the past that have gone to Heaven. As an assistant pastor and then as a pastor I have hosted the men that were greatly used of God in the 20th century. Some you will like and some you won’t but that God used them greatly is hard to deny. Men like J. Harold Smith, Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, W. A. Criswell, Tom Malone, Joe Boyd, Etc.

I loved sitting under their preaching and I loved spending time with them alone. In every case I found them to be men of character and willing to answer questions of a younger preacher.

One of the most colorful was Dr. Hyman Appleman. Dr. Appleman a Russian born Jew who became an attorney then became a Christian. He was one of the most brilliant men I have ever met. With his deep Russian accent he would give me story after story then suddenly stop and say, “Write this down.” Then he would proceed to give me a sermon outline quoting text and enumerated points from his astonishing memory.

The following outline is one of those that he gave me. I preach it often at meetings with great response.

THE PRODIGAL SON – LUKE 15:11-24

1. He Came To Want – V 14-16

2. He Came to Himself – V 17

3. He Came to His Father – V 18-24

That is how Dr. Appleman gave them. Putting the Intro, meat, conclusion and invitation on was up to me. But, I loved the sermon starters he gave me. I hope that someone can use those thoughts in your ministry in some way.

Have a great week end.

Bro. Lonnie Mattingly – John 15:8
Pastor Emeritus, Shawnee Baptist Church
Doing the work of an Evangelist