Sermon: “Let’s Go Over to Bethlehem and Find: ‘The Promise of Christmas'”

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Sermon Notes
Scripture: Matthew 1:16-25
“Let’s Go Over to Bethlehem and Find: ‘The Promise of Christmas'”

“Immanuel” — God is with us!

Examples:

  • Moses caught between Pharoah and the sea — God was with him!
  • David battling Goliath — God was there!
  • Christ on the Cross — God was with His Son!
  • Deepest valleys of in our lives — God is with us!

When we trust and believe that God is with us it will absolutely change our lives.  Who can stop us?  Who will defeat us?  No one, because we know where home is, and God is with us!

We can claim the promise of God with us when:

  • We are frightened —  Jesus talks about being paralyzed by fear.  Today we battle it also.
  • We are lonely — “I will be there for you.  You are not alone”.
  • We’re in sorrow — God is always close when we hurt.

“Footprints in the Sand”
Mary Stevenson, 1936

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

The Good News of Christmas is that God is there when we are frightened, lonely, and in sorrow.  Let God be with us this Christmas.  Accept him into your heart!

Sermon: “Let’s Go to Bethlehem & Find: ‘The Faith of Christmas'”

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Sermon Notes
Scripture: Luke 2:15-20
“Let’s Go Over to Bethlehem and Find: ‘The Faith of Christmas'”

The 10 Commandments for Christmas:

  1. Thou shalt prepare early.
  2. Thou shalt keep Christ at the center of Christmas.
  3. Thou shalt make Christmas a family time with God.
  4. Thou shalt remember those less fortunate.
  5. Thou shalt give thyself with every gift.
  6. Thou shalt learn to be a good receiver.
  7. Thou shalt put music into Christmas.
  8. Thou shalt slow down, not speed up.
  9. Thou shalt remember to worship.
  10. Thou shalt receive Christ into thy life.

Fact: Sometimes we get so caught up in the family & busyness of Christmas that we miss the message and meaning, and our priorities get mixed up.

When we go over to Bethlehem:

1. We see the faith that is happening there.

  • We see Christmas Faith; Jesus is born
  • We see the “Good News” of God’s salvation plan.
  • We see that we are not alone in this life; God is with us.
  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. –John 3:16

2. We see the hope that is happening there.

  • Christ came to bring hope.
  • We see the “Good News” of God’s ultimate victory.

3. We find the love that is happening there.

  • Love is the most powerful force in the world.
  • Jesus is God’s love in human form for us.
  • “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” –I Corinthians 13:13

Advent is the process of preparing for the miracles of Christmas:

  • The Miracle of Faith.
  • The Miracle of Hope.
  • The Miracle of Love.

Community Thanksgiving Service Dialog

For those who were unable to attend the Community Thanksgiving Service, here is the dialog from the service. Pastor Ken Halstead asks Pastor Bill Busch, Pastor Chuck Hayes, and Jacqueline Burnett for their thoughts on Thanksgiving.

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Sermon: Parable of the Rich Fool

How are we doing with our stuff?  Do we choose to place our trust in earthly stuff, or can we set aside our greed and focus on the eternal stuff? Let us count our blessings and be grateful for our only true security; Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

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Sermon Notes
Parable of the Rich Fool – Luke 12:13-21

1. Immediate problem is about money and an inheritance (Luke 12:13). Financial problems often divide families and relationships.  Trust is lost.

2. Jesus’ response: Who appointed him judge? (Luke 12:14).

3. Warning: Be on guard against greed (Luke 12:15).

4. A man’s life is not solely about wealth, security, or financial status.

5. Jesus tells them this parable: Luke 12:16-20

  • Blessing: Rich man produced good crop.
  • Blessing: Has storage problem; cup overflows.
  • Control: I will build bigger buildings.
  • Plans: I will have security; I will take life easy.
  • Conflict leading to eternal loss: God says, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you.  Who then will get your stuff?”.

This is how it will be for anyone who stores up stuff for themselves to be rich in earthly things, but not rich towards God! (Luke 12:21).

How are we doing with our stuff?  Do we really understand the only true security we have is in Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior?  Which do we choose to put our trust in: earthly stuff, or eternal stuff (Jesus)?

This thanksgiving, let us count our blessings and truly be grateful for our only true security, Jesus Christ, our Lord & Savior.  Praise God!

Sermon: Journey to Accomplishment

Do we actively seek the help we need?  Sometimes we deny ourselves help because we believe our problems and needs are nobody’s business but our own.  However, The Bible says otherwise.  Pastor Jim leads us through Matthew 7:7-12 to reveal the importance of Ask, Seek, and Knock.

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Sermon Notes
“Journey to Accomplishment” – Scripture: Matthew 7:7-12

  • Ask: Matthew 8:1-2, Matthew 17:14-16
  • Seek: 1 Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 119:10
  • Knock: Luke 23:39-43, Matthew 7:7

Whenever we ask, seek, knock, and turn our problems and needs over to God and God’s people, the promise is we will receive what we need and will be blessed by God. Many today refuse to participate in this because of foolish pride and their desire to be in control of their lives.

God’s plan for us is different.  Even though we often choose evil over good, Satan over Christ, wrong over right, God still loved His creation so much that He sent Jesus to die for our sin and still blesses us with His love and the fulfilling of our needs.

So what is our responsibility to receive these gifts and blessings?  Ask, seek, knock, and we will find Jesus and help the lost to be saved as well by example, lifestyle, and Christian love! If we display humility instead of sinful pride; surrender instead of control; sharing instead of secrecy, we can and will reach others for Jesus and grow in our spiritual journey as well.

It’s really quite simple; we are called to help each other in Christian love and obedience to God’s callings and commands (Matthew 25:37-40).  We are also to share all things in Christian love and prayer (James 5:13-16).  By confessing and sharing our sins and scars, and by praying for one another, God’s blessings flow; and as we ask, seek, and knock, we come close to Christ and each other in Christian love, devotion, and obedience to God’s word, will, and way. It is God’s plan for all creation and each of us.

Sermon: Is Your Guard Still Up?

How do we measure up? Are we keeping our guard up? Adam & Eve let their guard down and were “Knocked Out” of Eden.  Thankfully, we have a God who, in love for all His creations, has given us a new opportunity to realign ourselves with His word, will, and way.

Pastor Jim gives us concrete examples from the Bible of how we can start realigning our lives to be in line with God’s callings and commands.  Let’s never drop our guard and become KO’d of our relationship with the Lord.

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Sermon Notes
“Is Your Guard Still Up?” – Scripture: Genesis 3:1-13

Do We Really Know How to Keep Our Guard Up?

1) Read God’s Word

a) Reveals God’s salvation plan. (Romans 1:16-17)
b) Don’t just listen; Obey God’s word. (James 1:22)

2) Pray Continuously

a) Opens our eyes to the word. (Psalm 119:17-19)
b) Jesus makes prayer a priority. (Luke 5:15-16)
c) God grants prayers aligned with His will. (1 John 5:14-15)

3) Fellowship with other true Christians

a) We learn & grow in community. (Acts 2:42)
b) God works through us when we meet together. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

4) Service to others

a) Give ourselves fully to God’s work. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
b) Serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)
c) Saved to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14)
d) We sin when we knowingly neglect God’s work. (James 4:17)

5) Witnessing to others

a) True disciples cannot help sharing the “Good News” with others. (Acts 4:20)
b) Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
c) God’s word is meant to be passed along. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Sermon: Preparing to Witness in Word and Deed

Pastor Jim discusses the Parable of Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), and asks the question, “According to the parable of talents, what might a life of holiness and servanthood look like?”

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Sermon Notes
A Call to Holiness – The Parable of Talents – Matthew 25:14-30

1) The Main Characters of a Godly lifestyle:

a) The servants, entrusted with talents. (Matthew 25:14)
b) The master, giver of talents. (Matthew 25:15)
c) The master gave according to abilities. (Matthew 25:15)
d) There was immediate response by the servants. (Matthew 25:16-18)
e) Risk was involved; there was a possibility to lose talents.

2) The Master Returns to Settle Accounts (Matthew 25:19):

a) Praises and rewards to the faithful servants who took the risk to grow the kingdom. (Matthew 25:20-23)
b) The servant who took no risk was condemned for trying to use fear as a justifiable excuse. (Matthew 25:24)
c) No excuses were allowed or accepted. (Matthew 25:24-27)

3) The Final Judgment:

a) Rewards or Punishment. (Matthew 25:29)
b) Those who were not willing or were unable to grow the kingdom were not let into the kingdom, and instead received eternal darkness, weeping, gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)

Parable Questions

According to the Parable of Talents, what might a life of holiness and servitude look like?

  1. Would we be fearless?
  2. Would we be risk takers?
  3. Would we step out in faith?
  4. Would we be willing to look foolish in our faith to others?
  5. Would we use our gifts, graces, talents, and resources to grow God’s Kingdom?
  6. Would our lifestyle validate our belief in Christ?
  7. Would we bear fruit for the Kingdom?
  8. Would be bring the lost home to Jesus?
  9. Would we love all we meet?
  10. Will we hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”?

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