From Pastor Johnny

The Impact of Christmas on Our Views Sermon Blog Day 1

          Our particular view of something can dramatically impact the way we see and approach a situation. For instance, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, bronze medal winners are generally happier with their prizes than are silver medalists. Why? Bronze medalists are thrilled to win a medal at all, while silver medalists cannot stop thinking about how close they came to gold.

            Our view of a particular thing, event, person or experience has a lot to say about how we respond. When the view of a person changes, so does perspective on the matter.

          An English professor once wrote the words “Woman without her man is a savage” on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.

The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is a savage.

The women wrote: “Woman! Without her, man is a savage.”

          Over 2000 years ago, God came to earth.  The very night that happened, the world views of many people were radically changed. The birth of Christ dramatically impacts the views on life of those experiencing it. Consider a few of the views that changed at the appearance of Christ.

 My View of Confidence: 2.8-9

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.”

          One of the best things that can happen to any person is to lose our confidence in self and our circumstances and set it on Christ.  If we are convinced that we can live life in our own power - and apart from God’s grace - then we will have no need of Christ. 

           Being struck by fear, in this scene, completely upset the shepherds at a place where they had supreme confidence - in the fields.  Seeing Christ for who he is should reduce self-confidence and increase Christ confidence. 

            It is not surprising that the shepherds responded in the way that they did. They were deathly afraid.  They were no different than others in the Bible.                            

            The prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 6, cried out that he was cursed and would surely die when confronted with the glory of God. Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 1, fell on his face after seeing some powerful prophetic images from God. Peter, James and John, in Matthew 17 on the Mount of Trans, fell down on their faces in terror when Jesus showed his glory before them. In Revelation 1, when John sees the glory of Christ, he passed out from fear.             

            Each of these people arose from their stunned condition with a new confidence, not in themselves, but Christ. When my focus is on self, it simply cannot be on Christ. When my confidence is in Christ, that is an entirely unique perspective.

              The suicide rate for teens has skyrocketed in the last 10-15 years. I would suggest that, at least in part, teaching students that all confidence is in self, is a recipe for huge disappointment. SUCCESS & CONFIDENCE MUST BE IN CHRIST!

                If you do not parent with the confidence in Christ, rather than your ability, it will wear you down. You will make many mistakes, as have I, but the success of my children is rooted in Christ not in my abilities. SUCCESS AND CONFIDENCE MUST BE IN CHRIST.

                 I am not that confident in my ability as a pastor, a preacher, or a spiritual leader. If I thought that my success was rooted in my abilities, I think it would crush me. I am not that smart, not that convincing, and not that much of a visionary. However, my Jesus is another issue entirely! SUCCESS AND CONFIDENCE MUST BE IN CHRIST.

The Impact of Christmas On Our Families Sermon Blog Day 3

He Might Move their Calculation:  Luke 2:7

          We often calculate just how and where we will be in the years ahead.  We have often planned in our minds where we will be in 5 years, 10 years, or 25 years.   We often calculate our future, based upon where we are right now.  We often calculate our future based on what we KNOW to be true now.

       For instance, consider Philippians 3:3-6:

“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”

 AND…

 Galatians 1:13-14  

“For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”

Don’t you know that Paul had his life, and his future, all planned out?  He had calculated perfectly just exactly what would come ahead.  Yet...God often rearranges our calculations.

       Christ cannot show up on the scene without changing you.

            In Oneness Embraced by Dr. Tony Evans, he speaks of his life growing up until he was 9 years old. He speaks of how, after his father’s conversion, the entire family changed. Their focus on God changed. Their participation in church changed.   

       When God is bringing His plan to pass, He will impact families.

CHAD & RUTHANNE                           

       Ruthanne and I have been seeking to follow God's call to cross-cultural ministries for over 10 years. We successfully owned our own business in hopes of finding time for annual short-term mission expeditions. Unfortunately, life became consuming and work responsibilities hindered this short-term mission plan. But then God provided an opportunity for a change in our lives. Reflecting on our stewardship of God's calling, we decided to pack the family and pursue full-time missionary work. During our years of waiting, God intently directed us towards involvement with Hispanic ministries. These experiences have helped determine our focus of ministry. We now look forward to ministering among the Mapuche Indians of Chile, South America. What an amazing journey! Only through obedience can we fulfill the ultimate purpose of life; glorifying God!

 

The Impact of Christmas On Our Families Sermon Blog Day 2

He Might Move their Destination: 2:6

       Prior to Augustus Caesar’s call for the census, does anyone really think that Joseph and Mary had planned to make Bethlehem the location of their delivery room?  Their intended destination for delivering that baby could NOT have been Bethlehem or a manger.  Yet...God can cause families to completely change the destination they thought they had to finalize and accomplish His purposes.

       How about the family that was one of the families who started it all? If Abram and Sarai had not been open to God’s change, there would have been no Isaac. If there had been no Isaac, there would have been no Jacob. If there had been no Jacob – who would become Israel – there would not have been his 12 sons. Without the 12 sons of Israel, there would not have been the 12 tribes of Israel. Within those 12 tribes was one tribe named Judah.  Without Judah there would have been no line of David. The line of David would eventually produce Jesus the Messiah.

       All that, and yet, guess where it started. It started with God talking to Abraham and telling him, “Get out of your country from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.”

       Not...go to New Jersey.  Not...go over to Babylon and take a right.  Not...go three miles past Samaria.  But...go to a place I will show you.

       How many of you have ever gone on a trip where your family asks, “Where are we going?” and you honestly answer, “I don’t know.  We’ll know when we get there.” 

       GOD CAN DO DRAMATIC THINGS WITH YOUR DESTINATION.

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