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How to Have a Merry Christmas All Year Long!!!!!!!!!

Text: Luke 2:15-20 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (ESV).

To understand how to have a Merry Christmas all year long we must turn to the characters of the Christmas story, for they teach us much about having a Merry Christmas all year.

  •  Mary teaches us that to have a Merry Christmas all year long we must keep the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­AMAZEMENT of who Christ is in our heart. Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

What does the word “ponder” mean? The word ponder is a word that comes from an old Greek word. It means placing together for comparison. This meant that Mary took the events and the words that had been spoken to her into her heart and she began to meditate upon on these words and what they meant to her. She “thought” of these things often and anxiously. The word “ponder” means to meditate, to consider or examine attentively or deliberately. meditate implies a definite focusing of one’s thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply.

What does the word “treasure” mean? The second word used here is the word “treasure.” The word means to protect or defend. It is to place great value on the focus of one’s affections. To treasure does not represent shallow emotions but emotions that are rooted in the depths of one’s desires and hopes. To treasure Jesus up in our heart we must make room for Him and not allow the cares and issues of life to crowd Him out. For Him to dwell in us means we can know His love and generosity. The problem too often is that we cease to be amazed at God’s grace and His majesty, not for what He can do for us but for who He is alone. The issues of life can begin to crowd Him out so that He does not seem so amazing any more.

What do you focus on? It has been said that what we focus on we will worship and what we worship we will serve. And what we serve will begin to control our lives. Have you ever been driving on a long trip and you begin to focus on the car in front of you? If you have ever done this then you know that if the car in front of you starts to veer off the road, you do too, because you are focusing on that car. You must look beyond the car to avoid a problem.

Those who are farmers understand this best. If you want to plow a straight line you don’t look down at the ground but you fix your eyes on a point in the distance so that you will plow straight.

 Jesus said this in Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. So where your focus is your heart will follow.

So where is your focus today?  Make it your new year’s resolution to follow Christ all year long.

  • The shepherds teach us that to have a Merry Christmas all year long we must SHARE what we have heard and what we have EXPERIENCED. Luke 2:17 And when they saw it, they made known the sayings that had been told them.

We must not only make room for Christ and never cease to be amazed at who Christ is but we must share His gift of love and generosity with others. We must share His message.

If we found a great restaurant we would want to share it with everyone we encounter. If we watched a great movie we would tell everyone. If we bought a new gadget that helped us save time we would share our joy in finding the new tool.

To have a Merry Christmas all year long we must make it a point of sharing your faith with others this year. Do you have a story about God’s grace? Where have you seen Him move in your life? How have you changed since knowing Christ? Is there a passage of scripture that you have read that has changed your life? Use these things to share with others.

  • The Magi teach us that to have a Merry Christmas all year long we need to SEEK FOR HIM each day and find ways to worship Him in our heart which for us is in essence developing a relationship with Him. Matthew 2:2 We have come to worship Him.

God desires to have a relationship with us by way of our worship because He loves us and He enjoys us. The idea of worship here is founded in the fact that He desires intimacy with us. Can you imagine if I never talked with Michelle, my wife, nor ever spent time with her? Our relationship would deteriorate rather quickly. It would not necessarily mean that we did not love each other it would mean that we were out of fellowship and that our relationship was not growing.

To have a Merry Christmas all year long be a believer that worships Christ in all that you do. Worship Him with the way you live, the way respond to others and how you live when no one else is around. It in this regard that our character, who we are when no one else sees us, is a worship to God. Irwin McManus said that Jesus is not as impressed with our talents as He is our character. You see our character will speak louder than any word ever spoken.

To show our love to God we must seek Him and seek to worship Him at all times.

Conclusion:

What can you do to have a Merry Christmas all year long? Is Christ still amazing to you? Do you share with others what you have heard and seen? Do you search for Christ each day by worshipping Him as Lord?

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Understanding Stewardship

When I use the term “stewardship” what comes to your mind? Do you focus only on your finances? Does your mind race to the preacher in the pulpit that is constantly demanding more money and “if you give” you will receive some sort of special gift or miracle as if God only blesses if we give to “their” particular ministry? For others, it is that annual event or plea that takes place in most churches where the pastor preaches a series of messages on being a “good steward” by giving more money. The reality, however, is that stewardship is more than just money, it is a lifestyle where we recognize that all we possess, whether it is money, talent, friends or possessions, belong to God. God owns it. But, we have the privilege and the responsibility to manage what we have been given. And how we manage what God has given, speaks much about our worship to God.

I love what John Piper said in one of his messages entitled “Magnifying God with Money” (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.) The inner essence of worship is the treasuring of God as infinitely valuable above everything. The outer forms of worship are the acts that show how much we treasure God. Therefore all of life is meant to be worship because God said whether you eat or drink or whatever you do – all of life – do it all to show how valuable the glory of God is to you (1 Corinthians 10:31). Money and things are a big part of life, and therefore God intends them to be a big part of worship – since all of life is to be worship. So the way you worship with your money and your possessions is to get them and use them and lose them in a way that shows how much you treasure God – not money.

A number of years ago in a church I pastored in New York, a gentleman came up to me and handed me a check at the end of the service. I looked and the check was for more than $10,000. I ask the gentleman what this was and he said that since he did not like the last pastor or what was happening in the church at the time, he had withheld his tithe until he was more secure in what was happening. He had placed the money in a savings account and was now feeling pretty good about the condition of the church. Initially, I was reluctant to take the money but I did. Then it dawned on me that he said that he had placed the money in a savings account. I proceeded to ask him about the interest the money had made since he had taken what rightfully belonged to God and placed it in a savings account. The next week he brought me a check for the interest on the account.

The point is that too often we narrow the focus of stewardship to finances and while that is a huge part of it, there is more. The fact is our lives must be worship to God so how we handle what we have been given speaks of how much we honor and worship God.  Real stewardship includes our money, our time, and our talents. In reality it is about everything we are and everything we do. Do we mange our lives in a way that brings glory and honor to God? If we do, then giving our tithes and offerings to the church will not be a burden but it will be an honor to do so and it will be worship that magnifies and honors God. In essence, we are saying “We trust you Lord.”

God has been faithful and he has provided for us in so many ways but the challenge is for us all to step up to the plate and honor God with our giving and our lives. This means that we will no longer sit on the sidelines but we will all get into the game. We participate by giving abundantly to God. We participate by getting involved. We participate by sharing our faith with someone that does not know Christ. We participate by bringing an encouraging word to someone that needs a shoulder to cry on.

By the way John Piper finished his sermon with these words:

I close by simply relating these four points to the corporate act of worship we call “the offering.” This moment and this act in our service will be worship for you, regardless of the amount – from the widow’s mite to the millionaire’s thousands – if by giving you say from the heart: 1) I hereby trust you, God, as my happy, generous Shepherd, Father and King, so that I will not be afraid when I have less money for myself in supplying the needs of others; 2) I hereby resist the incredible pressure in our culture to accumulate more and more and cast my lot with the impulse to simplicity for the sake of others; 3) I hereby lay up treasure in heaven and not on earth so that my joy in God will be maximized forever; and 4) with this offering I declare that since my treasure is in heaven, my heart goes after God.

Are you ready for the challenge? Let’s do it. In advance, I celebrate what God is going do when we are faithful as stewards of the blessing He has given us. To God be the Glory!!!!!

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