Let’s Go Over To Bethlehem And Find: The Faith of Christmas (2011)
Scripture: Luke 2:15-20
“Let’s Go To Bethlehem And Find:
The Faith of Christmas – 2011″
At Christmas, we celebrate the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy that God will send a savior, the Messiah, to earth to redeem His people.
Now, hear me well! There is nothing in the Bible about Santa Clause, the North Pole, little green elves, flying reindeer, or that we are to be super busy with rushing out to buy up all the goods in the America to give as gifts to our friends and family members or getting stuff we don’t need.
If you are a new believer, the real Christmas is radically different from what you have been taught and from how you have likely celebrated it all your life. That should make this season of Advent and Christmas extraordinarily exciting to you!
Advent means “coming,” and so the season of Advent is a season in which we get ready for celebrating the “coming of our Savior as Christmas time. Today we begin a season of preparation; a season in which we are called to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of our Savior’s coming.
Now, if you are a long-time, or fairly long-time, believer, Let us not approach the Advent and Christmas seasons with “frequent flyer” syndrome,” where we just go through the motions with no joy or enthusiasm. Don’t let this year be “business as usual”, nor “busy-ness as usual.” Let us slow down, and take a different Journey this year; A journey to Bethlehem, the place of our Savior’s birth.
This season is meant to deepen & refresh our faith each year, so I invite you all to join us on an exciting journey to Bethlehem!
I) When We Go to Bethlehem, We see Faith Happening There
Q: What is the response of the shepherds to this Good News they have received from the Lord?
A: The shepherds decided to go and see for themselves, because they believed that it was God who had told them this Good News, and they trusted that it was true.
In our Scripture today, we see the shepherds embark on a journey, and arrive at Bethlehem, the birthplace of our faith. We see the shepherds embark on a journey, and arrive at Bethlehem, the birthplace of our faith. The shepherds found that what God had told them about, was exactly what God had foretold long ago about the coming of the Savior. The faith of the Shepherds blossoms in Bethlehem! When we spiritually embark on this same journey to Bethlehem, we also find the Faith of Christmas happening there.
II) When We Go to Bethlehem, We see Hope Happening There
III) When We Go to Bethlehem, We see Love Happening There
A. First, we see the Love of God for all humanity as God was faithful to bring about what He had promised long ago. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
God sent Jesus because He loves us all, and wishes that not one person should perish!
Luke 2 18-20
Here, we see not only God’s love for all humanity, but we see…
- When the shepherds arrive in Bethlehem and see the Christ child – when they see the Savior had come – their love for God increased, as they are motivated to praise & glorify God for what He has done
- We also see Mary’s love of God increase, as she ponders and treasures the whole event in her heart.
- We see the hearts of all whom the shepherds spread the word begin to warm toward God, as they were amazed at what they were told.
Like the shepherds, when we travel to Bethlehem, we see three things:
- We see the miracle of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
- We see the miracle of Hope in salvation.
- We see the miracle of Love; both the Love of God for us and our love for God.
I want to leave you with a few commandments for this Advent and Christmas season:
- Thou shalt prepare your heart, and prepare early! – Don’t wait until the last minute to get into the Christmas Spirit. Prepare your heart now that you may receive what God wants to give you this Advent and Christmas season.
- Thou shalt keep CHRIST at the CENTER of Christmas. – Do not let this season pass you by without making a commitment to read the Scriptures during this season pointing us to the Christ of Christmas. Keep your focus on Christ during this time.
- Thou shalt make Christmas a time for family. – Remember to spend time with your family. Sometimes we get caught up with work or whatever responsibilities we have even during the holidays.
- Thou shalt remember your church family. – Do not get caught up with the frenzy this pagan world has created during this season. Commit yourselves to sharing this season with your church family; both in worship and in fellowship.
- Thou shalt remember those less fortunate. – Likewise, a part of remembering your church family is caring for the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ when hardship and needs arise in their lives. And we shouldn’t stop there. If there are others we know outside of the church who are in need, do something to relieve and provide for that need if you are able.
- Thou shalt give yourself with every gift you give. – Put some thought into the gifts you give this year, especially to those who need Christ the most. Let your gift represent who you are in Christ, and the love you have for others.
- Thou shalt learn to be a good receiver. – Many of us have a difficult time receiving things graciously and gracefully. We all must learn to accept the gifts with grace and gratefulness simply because we ought to be grateful to Christ for what He has done for us.
- Thou shalt slow down. – I want to challenge every person here to purposely slow down during this Advent season. Advent and Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, not stress.
- Thou shalt remember to Worship. – So many people get caught in the secular commercialization of Christmas. Don’t let that be you; it is idolatry. Again, DO NOT neglect coming to church. The church the only place you will find the true meaning of Christmas.
- Thou shalt receive Christ into your life! – Don’t just talk about the Christ of Christmas; receive Him into your heart and life as Lord and Savior. Receive Him as Savior, but also receive Him as Lord; make Christ first in your life
Finally, I challenge you…
Whether old or new in your faith-journey, allow God to work in your life in a new way as we celebrate this Advent season, and allow your faith to blossom continuously from this day forward.