In Matthew 5:8 God tells us that if we are pure in heart we will be blessed because we will be able to see Him. Being pure in heart doesn’t mean changing everything about you, it means having your head and your heart centered on Christ. It is very easy to become blind to greediness and other harmful thoughts that creep into the heart, alienating us from the life God wants for us. When we redirect our hearts and minds and focus on God’s will for us, He will bless us by letting us see Him active in our lives.
Just like in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope when Luke let go of his understanding and put his hope and trust in the force to destroy the Death Star, we have the ability to let go and place our hope and trust in God to handle our everyday situations. God is the source of hope and when we trust Him, He will fill us with joy and peace. The goal is to be completely overflowing with hope. We should be so satisfied by it that we feel free to love others. Your hope is not tied to your circumstances, it’s tied to something so much bigger than us.
The story of Christmas started long before the manger scene we all associate Christmas with. It doesn’t begin with a couple trying to figure out how they got pregnant, but with a couple who thought they never would get pregnant. It starts with the incredible faith of Abram. Abram was told by the Lord to leave his country and his people with the Lord showing him where to go. The Lord promised to make Abram a great nation, to bless him, to make his name great and that he would be a blessing to others. This was kind of a weird promise as Abram was just one guy with out any children so how could he be a blessing to anyone? Abram didn’t know where he was going, but left his house and family behind because he believed in this unbelievable promise. That was the promise that started the Christmas story. There are 2000 years of history full of slavery and fighting that pass by. It was a dark time when God sent Isaiah to be a light for the Gentiles so that God’s salvation would reach the ends of the Earth. They thought this was a joke because they were all going to die. They had become an easy to beat group of people so no one could possibly believe what God was saying.
It was a hopeless time when people didn’t even know how they were going to feed themselves when God’s plan came together. He waited for the proper time to completely fulfill His promise to Abraham. Abraham finally did have a son, which led to Joseph entering the world. It was almost 2000 years later when we get to the birth of Jesus, but Israel became a light that will be talked about forever. This story proves that God can be trusted and will deliver His promises. It was during the darkest times that a miracle was birthed and salvation was brought to the world. God is active even when He seems silent and He wants to be your Savior. God does have a plan for you and you will see it when He is ready. Christmas can be a dark time for some as it is a reminder that loved ones have passed on, the kids have grown up and that your life may not be like it used to be. Take time this Christmas season to refocus. You do have a reason to celebrate as God has brought salvation to you all because Abraham stepped out in faith. So why Christmas? The world needed it, that’s why.
Pastor Jack continued the Christmas sermon series by giving Mary’s point of view on giving birth to our Savior. He broke it down into three points, which were the amazing announcement, assignment and acceptance. An angel came to the Virgin Mary and told her she will give birth to a son who will be named Jesus. That announcement was an absolute miracle because it meant God was becoming a human being. When the prophets spoke of God being empathic to our suffering, it was helpful but we didn’t really understand. God became sympathetic when He came in human form. Now we know that He understands our suffering. It was important that God came as a person, because the real problems in life involve people and relationships. God will enter our lives and help us with them.
Often times God will choose the most unlikely and weak people to do His work. When you realize that you need help because you can’t do everything alone, then there is room for God to come in. God doesn’t wait for perfection. The redemption of the world was given to a teenage girl. God trusted Mary and Mary probably thought how could this be happening to me? The acceptance of this assignment came with some serious consequences. Mary would be considered an outcast and a sinner for having a child out of wedlock. She would lose her engagement and be disowned. She would have to become a prostitute or beg in order to survive. Mary was a servant of the Lord so she accepted this assignment and everything that came with it. It may not have been what she wanted, but by understanding that God had put her there, she was able to experience joy. Mary knew it was going to be ok because God will always bless a decision to accept His will.
How do you transition from how can this be to may it be? You make the decision that you would rather be in God’s will than apart from Him. You may not want to go in that direction, but you accept that is what God wants for you. A death may occur inside you as you let go of your own desires, hopes and plans. Once that happens, you can be born into God’s plan for you. To experience peace, joy and the true meaning of life you need to let Christ in.
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. Some of the good things include delicious food, family time, parties, seeing the excitement of your kids and the story of Jesus. The not so fun part of Christmas centers on how commercial it has become. There are pressures with this holiday including the need to please, not feeling like you have bought enough, getting yourself into debt and trying to keep up with others. The true meaning of Christmas gets lost in all of the materialism. It’s time to refocus on Jesus because if you don’t this will be a time of year that you dread instead of a time of celebration. The Christmas season is an opportunity to pay it forward, show others the love of Jesus, put differences aside and be generous because of what God has done in your life.
Pastor Michael read scripture from Timothy 6:17-19 which talks about teaching those who are rich in this world to place their trust in God who richly gives you all you need rather than in your money which is unreliable. God wants you to rely on Him. Having more than your friends and colleagues causes one to feel rich. Rich is a moving target though and in a world of competition and comparison, it’s often challenging to feel rich. God has richly blessed you in so many ways and provides opportunities for you. One of God’s blessings is generosity, which was created in you when He sent Jesus into this world.
The world is deprived of the real meaning of Christmas. It is not about the presents. It’s about what Jesus did for you. God has made you rich by giving of His grace, love and forgiveness. You are a conduit to show others what God is like. Generosity empowers you to experience true life. Don’t let everyday life get in the way of your good intentions. Refocus on God, volunteer your time, donate money or gifts and be a light to others. When you act generously, you look like your Father in Heaven.