Christmas is over now what
Christmas is OverNow What? Acts 20:35Christmas is OverNow What? Acts 20:35
Christmas is OverNow What?
Did Christmas you get what you wanted or did you get what you expected? Did you come away satisfied, or are you kind of discouraged by it all? I have some great memories of Christmas as a little boy, but there were also some times of great disappointment. That is probably true for many folks. Christmas holds such promise for what could be and then the reality sets in.
Let me remind you of a conversation that most of you have had over the last few weeks. It probably went something like this. "You know it is almost Christmas? I can't believe it will be here so soon!" Remember that? Well Christmas is over, now what do we do?
I. It's Time To Put Things Away.
A. Decorations, Lights, and other seasonal items
B. If you decoratedit is time to put them away.
C. Wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, etc.
D. Just as we put these away, we should put away our hurts, our unfulfilled expectations
E. Put away the comparisons
F. Let's not forget what Christmas is supposed to be about.
Acts 20:35, "...and to remember the words of our Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
II. It's Time To Express Gratitude For What We Have Received.
A. Certainly we should be thankful for the gifts we have received from those who love us.
B. But don't forget about the multitude of other gifts.
C. Perhaps the most important is our salvation through Jesus Christ.
(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. Paul reminds us that it cannot be purchased.
2. It is beyond our comprehension.
3. He calls it the 'unspeakable gift' which means words cannot describe it.
D. Has the Lord blessed you? This is a great time of year to remember that and thank Him.
III. It's Time To Get Back To A Normal Routine.
A. Christmas has been fun...but it is time to get back to normal (whatever that may mean)
1. For some of us that will mean a change in what we eat.
2. For others it will mean going back to work and getting back on schedule.
3. For students it means getting back to classes.
4. For believers it means getting back to the basics of living for Him daily.
B. The glory of the grind.
1. That's how one fellow describes it.
2. It is in the detailsthe boring routines that we do our best work.
3. It is time for us to get back to work!
4. There are people who need to hear the Gospel message.
5. There are co-workers, friends, and family who still do not know Christ.
6. Living for the Lord isn't always exciting, but it is always rewarding.
(1 Corinthians 4:2) Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
7. It has been nice to have a break, and enjoy the holidays, but it is required of us that we be found faithful.
IV. It's Time To Start Thinking About The New Year
1. Certainly it is good for us to reflect upon what we have accomplished in this past year
2. But more important is for us to plan for what we will do in the year to come.
3. 2008 is like a blank canvaswhat will we paint with our lives?
B. One wise bit of information I was given many years ago was this
1. Plan your work, and then work your plan.
2. It simply means that we need to give consideration to what we will do with the time that God gives us.
3. Will we redeem the timeor will we waste it?
4. Clearly God's Word tells us that we must make good use of the time we have been given.
(John 9:4) I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
(Proverbs 27:1) Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
C. Instead of New Years resolutions, that are usually forgotten long before Valentine's Day.
D. Why don't we make lifetime commitments?
1. If you have never trusted Christ as Savior, commit your life to Him today.
2. Christians, why not make a commitment to His local churchjoin with us as we serve the Lord together in the New Year.
3. Church members, how about a commitment to become more involved in serving others this year?
4. There isn't an area or ministry of our church that couldn't use some additional folks who are willing to faithfully serve.
Christmas is overIt is time to put away the things that would hinder us in our service. It is time to express our gratitude for all we have received. It is time to get back to the normal routine. And it is time to start thinking about the New Year.
Christmas is Over, Now What? – Henderson's First Baptist Church
Christmas is Over, Now What?
HFBC December 27, 2015
We have just celebrated Christmas. And with the completion of that celebration the media firestorm surrounding the holiday will quiet for another year. We will not hear anymore of the stories that have a tendency to get Christians all up in arms over the “attack on Christmas”.
Stories about schools being required to remove the nativity that has been a traditional part of the school play for decades because it favors one religion.
Stories about a coffee chain that has snubbed Christmas by choosing to use a simple red cup instead of one that recognizes the holiday.
Or my favorite. The story about a kindergarten class that was forced to cancel it’s annual field trip to visit Santa Claus at a local coffee shop because Santa Claus has become a symbol of Christmas and as such has the potential to cause children who are not Christian to feel alienated.
But now all of that is behind us. We don’t have to deal with it for another year. We can put away our righteous indignation along with our decorations. We can breath one huge sigh of relief that Christmas, with all its commercialism, consumerism, and controversy is over for another year.
But as a Christian I have to reconsider that attitude. I have to stop and take pause at my relief that what should be one of the most spiritually celebratory times of the year is over. I have to ask myself if that kind of an attitude betrays the fact that I really don’t look at Christmas in the way God intended. I have to ask myself if I am actually missing out on what should be something of a booster shot for an ongoing and joyful celebration.
You know, we do that with other things that bring us joy. Or at least I know I do. When something I enjoy comes along I savor every minute of it. Then I look back on it with fond memories and often immediately begin planning for when I can enjoy it again.
For example, I love to hike and backpack. I will meticulously plan for a trip going over and over all the details and planning. I will virtually memorize the route and the topography of the trail. I will plan the meals and where we will camp. And when the time comes I will enjoy every minute of being in the woods. Then after it is all over, after I have treated the blisters on my feet, cleaned all the gear, packed everything back into its proper place of storage, I will turn to my maps and guidebook looking for what portion of the trail I will conquer next. I look to what work and joy is next.
I do the same thing in my daily schedule as well because I also love to eat and some of you may be able to relate. I enjoy sitting down with one of my favorite foods and eating, savoring every last bite and crumb often even going back for seconds before moving on to dessert. But then even as I put away the mess I will often find myself planning for what I will eat at my next meal or perhaps what I will snack on between meals.
And as I thought about this contrast of how we often are relieved at the passing of Christmas while we find ongoing joy in what are ultimately passing things of this world it made me stop and seriously ask the question:
Christmas is over, now what? How do I go on celebrating Christ? How do I use this season as a springboard or a booster shot that will help me to have an increased sense of joy in Christ? How do I make this season a time that I enjoy every moment of, remember with great fondness, and look forward to again and again?
And as with everything I found that answer to those questions in the Bible. In a passage of Scripture that we often look to as one of the “Christmas Stories” in the Bible. But one that is in reality an account of what Christmas should bring next to the life of a believer.
Our passage this morning is found in the New Testament book of Matthew chapter 2 beginning with verse 1. This is likely a familiar passage of Scripture to everyone in the room. These are the verses that introduce us to the Wise Men, the Magi, those royal looking figures that we often think of in connection with the birth of Christ. Individuals we often associate with Christmas. But this morning I don’t want to look at their participation in the Christmas narrative but instead I want to look at how they actually serve as examples of how Christmas should just be a starting point or a reminder that leads us to active Christian living.
Now I hope everyone has found their place so I would invite you to stand as I read just a couple of verses from our passage this morning before we pray. We will be looking at verses 1-12 but right now I want to read verses 10 and 11.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
I want to start this morning by walking through the passage while making a few observations and then we will look at five things this passage shows us that we should do in response to Christmas and more specifically in response to encountering the Christ.
But first let’s walk through the text.
Verse 1: “after Jesus was born.” This is the first of many clues we receive in this passage that this is an account that happened some time after the birth of Christ. The first hint that we often times look at the wise men out of sequence. Now I am not trying to be legalistic about inaccurate nativity scenes or anything like that, but I do think it is important to understand that this is an after Christmas event. The wise men were not present at the manger.
“wise men from the East” Who were these men? Well the Bible really doesn’t tell us. it simply tell us that they were wise and that they were from somewhere east of Israel. Somewhere that was far enough away that they made a significant trip and far enough away that they were not completely familiar with the political situation in Judea.
Verse 2: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? seen his star and have come to worship Him. They were indeed wise. They recognized that the promised king, the deliverer of Israel, the Messiah, had come. And they were wise enough to respond appropriately—by worshiping Him
Verse 3: Herod the king heard and was troubled—why? because he was afraid that even the hint of the Messiah coming would put his position at risk. He was king only because he and his ancestors had schemed with Rome to obtain the position. He was not even a Jew. He was an Edomite. All Jerusalem was troubled with him—because they knew Herod would not be challenged, they knew even a hint of revolt or nationalism would cause him to rain cruelty down upon them. It also betrays that they feared Herod more than they trusted God.
Verse 4: Gathered chief priests and scribes—the Sanhedrin and the Jewish scholars who would know the prophecies of the Old Testament. Inquired of them where the Christ was to be born—Herod was no believer but he was not taking any chances. He would not lose his power and position even if this was the Messiah of the prophecies, even if this was the Christ.
Verses 5-6: In Bethlehem, in the land of Judah—just as the prophet Micah wrote:
But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel. The priests and scribes had no trouble pinpointing where the Messiah was supposed to be born, they only had trouble believing it. They had stopped looking for the promised Messiah. Some Gentile wise men had not stopped looking but God’s own chosen people had ceased to believe. This is one of those places in Scripture that points to the beautiful fact that Jesus was born for all nations.
Verses 7-8: Herod schemes to find the child and we find our later in the chapter (you can read it later this afternoon) that he wants to find the child in order to kill him and any threat to his power. So he tries to trick the wise men and very likely he did trick them. But we find later in the verses that he did not and could not trick God. Because God’s plan cannot be stopped.
Verses 9-10: Followed the star to where the young child was and they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy—they were not just happy. They were overjoyed, the greek here is the same as is translated later in the NT as “one’s cup running over”.
They were indescribably happy to be in the presence of the Christ. That by itself would be enough of a lesson to take away from these verses. As believers we should be happy beyond what words can describe to be constantly in the presence of the Christ. We should see Christmas, Easter, and any given Sunday as a day that reminds us to rejoice with “exceedingly great joy” that we have found the Christ. But more about that when we look at the five responses believers should have to Christmas.
Verse 11: House—not at the birth fell down and worshipped—appropriate response from the most unlikely of individuals. gifts—sacrifices—showed an understanding of his worth and value.
Verse 12: Divinely warned—God is not fooled and is always in control. Departed to their own country another way—was not convenient but they obeyed.
This is an amazing passage of Scripture that honestly many sermons could be preached on. But this morning in the time we have remaining I want to look at five actions the wise men modeled for us. Five actions that answer the question “Christmas is Over, Now What?”
First, Christmas should remind us to…
I. Continue Seeking Him (vv. 1-2)
Think about verses 1 and 2 again for just a moment. The wise men knew that the Christ had already been born. He had been born far away from where they lived. They could easily have said something like “Well we know he has been born and we will be grateful for that and we will even worship Him from afar. That will be just as good as going to find him.” But they didn’t.
Instead, they saddled up their camels, road for miles, stopped often to ask for directions (a difficult task in and of itself for a group of men) and all for what? To worship Him. To be closer to Him.
You see it wasn’t enough for them to say we know he is out there. It wasn’t enough for them to say we know where He is. They wanted to be closer to him.
We can take a lesson in that. We need to be constantly seeking Him. Not in the sense that we are looking for something we do not have, because we have everything when we have him.
But we need to constantly be seeking Him in order to be closer to Him. To live in a way that is pleasing to Him. To have a relationship with Him where we are constantly aware of His presence.
How do we seek a closer relationship with Him? Well I can think of three things we can do. They may seem like trite, churchy answers but the truth is they are good, solid, biblical answers. Things that if we or at least if I took them more seriously would lead to a much closer relationship with Christ.
Prayer. Simply recognizing that God is with us in all places at all times and that He is ready to communicate with us if only we will seek Him. It seems simple and that may be what makes it so hard to do well. But if we will talk to Him and listen for Him with expectation to receive an answer we would find ourselves much, much, closer to him.
Second, read the Word of God. Read the Bible. Again, sounds easy, sounds churchy, and is something we know we should do. But again, often easier said than done. But you and I both know that when we spend time in the Bible we get closer to God because we are constantly finding out more and more of the things about Himself that He has chosen to reveal to us. There is not better way to seek Him than to read His Word.
Third, learn from others who have a close relationship with God. In his book “Stepping Up” Dennis Rainy says that every man should be mentoring someone coming behind him and should be mentored by someone who has gone ahead of him. I think that can be said of every believer. Every Christian should be pouring into other believers to help them grow and they should have someone else pouring into them that can help them grow.
Right now is the perfect time to begin thinking about putting one, two, or all three of these things in place to help you seek a closer relationship with Christ. Right now is the time to be motivated by the joy of Christmas and to resolve to make changes for the New Year. Resolve this year to continue seeking Him.
The second thing Christmas should remind us to do is to…
II. Continue Following Him (vv. 3-6)
In verse 2 we find out that the wise men followed the star to find the Christ. And then in verse 6 we find our exactly who it is that they will find.
For out of you shall come a Ruler who shall shepherd My people Israel.
They will find a Shepherd. One who they can trust. One who will take care of their needs. One who will deliver them from danger. One who will stay with them every moment of every day. One that will do all of these things if they will simply follow Him.
You know the analogy of Christ as a Shepherd only works if we are willing to understand that in that analogy we have to accept our role as the sheep. You see sheep are not designed to be independent. They are not created in such a way that they can look to a shepherd and say “Ok you are the Shepherd, glad to know you, if I need anything I will give you a call.” No, they are created defenseless, helpless, and dependent.
We have to understand that spiritually we are just like sheep. We are in no position to look at Christ and say “You are the Savior, nice to know you, if I need anything I will give you a call.” Instead we need to understand that we need to follow closely to Him. Living under His protection, His care, His guidance, and His righteousness. We need to understand that Christianity is not intended to be a completed activity. It is instead to be a lifelong activity of following our shepherd.
Third, Christmas should inspire us to…
III. Continue Rejoicing in Him (vv. 9-10)
When the wise men got close to Jesus they “rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.” Their cups ran over with joy. You know folks, I think the picture we often have of the wise men at Christmas is hugely flawed when it comes to this point. Most of the time we think of these older, rather stuffy, men in their fine clothes quietly bowing down before a baby before quietly opening some gifts and laying them at his feet before filing out.
But according to what we see in verses 10 and 11 this worship service was far less Baptist than that. As a matter of fact, the way this is written it is much more likely that there was some shouting, dancing, and animated praising going on here. They were happy to be in the presence of the Messiah.
They were unashamed to praise him. They were to use a good biblical word “overcome with zeal”. J. C. Ryle gives us a good definition of the word zeal in his book Practical Religion. He puts it this way:
Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. This desire is so strong, when it really reigns in a man, that it impels him to make any sacrifice, to go through any trouble, to deny himself to any amount, to suffer, to work, to labor, to toil, to spend himself and be spent, and even to die, if only he can please God and honor Christ.
Our relationship with Christ should invoke in us the same zeal. We too should be overcome with joy in His presence. Being in the presence of Christ is cause for celebration and as such we should be celebrating every day. We should be filled with joy regardless of our circumstances. Yes there will be times of difficulty, yes there will be times of sadness, yes there will be times of pain, but in all of these the Christian has the unique benefit of simultaneously experiencing exceeding great joy that comes only from being in the presence and company of Christ.
So as believers we should never have the attitude of “I’ll endure” or “I guess I will make it through.” Instead we should have the attitude that “Even as I endure the difficulties of this world I will take joy in the fact that I am at the feet of Christ who loves and cares for me. ”
Believer, Christmas should serve as a reminder to us to rejoice in the Lord always because Christ is with us always.
Forth, Christmas should remind us to…
IV. Continue Worshiping Him (v. 11)
This one really goes hand in had with rejoicing in Him but it is a little bit different. The wise men did both and so should we. You see rejoicing is about praising God for what he has done for us. Worshiping is about praising God for who He is.
Only God is worthy of worship and Jesus the young child at whose feet the wise men feel was God incarnate. He was and is the God who took on flesh and came to us in order that we might experience the forgiveness of sin based on His perfect life and righteousness. Only God is perfect, only God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, only God is all powerful, only God is all knowing, only God is God.
So only God is worthy to be worshiped. And that should cause us to take pause every day. That should cause us to stop and recognize that all we have, all we are, and even the very fact that we exist is all owing to Him. So not only Christmas but every moment that we take breath should cause us to fall down and worship Him.
Finally, Christmas should remind you to…
V. Continue Giving Yourself to Him (vv. 11-12)
The wise men are a wonderful example of what it looks like to give ourselves to Christ. To make great sacrifices for Him. You see in these 12 short verses we see them give and give and give.
They gave up their time and their comforts for Him. They left the comfort and safety of their homes to travel hundreds of miles possibly by foot and at the best on a camel.
They gave extravagantly of their belongings. They gave gifts that represented some of the most expensive and highly sought after items of the time.
And they gave themselves. They were willing to listen to the voice of God and to answer when He spoke. They went out of their way when God warned them not to return to Herod. They answered His call.
You see, we too are called to give. But really it is part of the great exchange that is made when we become a Christian. You see, when we receive the forgiveness of sin and are covered in the righteousness of Christ we give not only our sins to Him but our entire selves. When we become followers of Christ we are no longer our own but instead we belong to Him.
So giving for Christ should really just be a part of who we are. As IMB president David Platt says we should recognize that our lives are blank checks ready for Christ to spend as He sees fit.
Christmas should serve as a blessed reminder that we belong to Christ and that we have the wonderful privilege of serving Him.
Conclusion: So Christmas should not be a time that we are glad to see go. It’s completion should not elicit a sigh of relief. Instead it should be a mere starting point. A reminder for the year ahead. A booster shot that helps us to seek Him, follow Him, rejoice in Him, worship Him, and give ourselves entirely too and for Him.
I want to finish this morning with one more quote from David Platt. A quote that challenges us to live a life that asks of the Lord with anticipation, What next?
Listen to what Platt writes in his book Follow Me:
No child of God is intended by God to be sidelined as a spectator in the great commission. Every child of God has been invited by God to be on the front lines of the supreme mission in all of history. Every disciple of Jesus has been called, loved, created, and saved to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus until the grace of God is enjoyed and the glory of God is exalted among every people group on the planet. And on that day, every disciple of Jesus—every follower of Christ and fisher of men—will see the Savior’s face and behold the Father’s splendor in a scene of indescribable beauty and everlasting bliss that will never, ever fade away. This is a call worth dying for. This is a King worth living for.
That is the answer to the question, What next? Live for the King, seek him, follow him, worship him, praise him, and give yourself to him.
COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.
Christmas ended for 15 Burundians in car accidents :: Autonews
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Christmas ended for 15 Burundians with death
In Burundi, a passenger bus fell into the abyss, 10 people died, 7 were injured. The incident took place in the south of the country. The culprit of the accident was a drunk bus driver who lost control. This was stated by police spokesman Emmanuel Bizimana.
Another car accident in Burundi killed 5 people. A drunk taxi driver crashed into a crowd of people celebrating Christmas. As a result, 21 people were injured. Some of the injured are in serious condition, according to Reuters.
Law enforcement agencies in this East African state have reported an increase in traffic accidents in recent days due to the holidays.
"The Night Before Christmas" in 5 minutes. Summary of Gogol's story
The last day before Christmas is replaced by a clear frosty night. The maidens and lads had not yet come out to carol, and no one saw how smoke came out of the chimney of one hut and a witch rose on a broomstick. She flashes like a black speck in the sky, picking up the stars in her sleeve, and the devil flies towards her, to whom "the last night was left to stagger around the white world." Having stolen the month, the devil hides it in his pocket, assuming that the darkness that has come will keep the houses of the rich Cossack Chub, invited to the clerk at kutya, and the hated devil blacksmith Vakula (who painted a picture of the Last Judgment and the shamed devil on the church wall) will not dare to come to Chubova’s daughter Oksana . While the devil is building chickens for the witch, Chub and his godfather, having left the hut, do not dare to go to the sexton, where a pleasant company will gather for varenukha, or, in view of such darkness, return home, and they leave, leaving the beautiful Oksana in the house, dressing up in front of a mirror, for which and Vakula finds her. The stern beauty taunts him, untouched by his tender words. An annoyed blacksmith goes to unlock the door, on which Chub, who has gone astray and lost his godfather, is knocking, having decided, by chance, a blizzard raised by the devil to return home. However, the blacksmith's voice leads him to think that he did not end up in his own hut (but in a similar one, the lame Levchenko, to whose young wife the blacksmith probably came), Chub changes his voice, and an angry Vakula, poking, kicks him out. The beaten Chub, realizing that the blacksmith, therefore, left his own house, goes to his mother, Solokha. Solokha, who was a witch, returned from her journey, and the devil flew in with her, dropping a month in the chimney.
It became light, the blizzard subsided, and crowds of carolers poured into the streets. The girls run to Oksana, and, noticing on one of them new laces embroidered with gold, Oksana declares that she will marry Vakula if he brings her the laces "which the queen wears." Meanwhile, the devil, who has become mellow at Solokha’s, is frightened away by the head, who has not gone to the deacon to kutya. The devil quickly climbs into one of the bags left in the middle of the hut by the blacksmith, but soon the head has to climb into the other, as the clerk knocks on Solokha. Praising the virtues of the incomparable Solokha, the clerk is forced to get into the third bag, since Chub appears. However, Chub will also climb there, avoiding a meeting with the returned Vakula. While Solokha is explaining herself in the garden with the Cossack Sverbyguz who came after, Vakula carries away the sacks thrown in the middle of the hut, and, saddened by the quarrel with Oksana, does not notice their heaviness. On the street he is surrounded by a crowd of carolers, and here Oksana repeats her mocking condition. Leaving all but the smallest sacks in the middle of the road, Vakula runs, and rumors are already crawling behind him that he has either been mentally disabled or hanged himself.
Vakula comes to Pot-bellied Patsyuk, a Cossack who, as they say, is "a bit like the devil." Having caught the owner eating dumplings, and then dumplings, which themselves climbed into Patsyuk's mouth, Vakula timidly asks for directions to hell, relying on his help in his misfortune. Having received a vague answer that the devil is behind him, Vakula runs away from the quick dumpling that climbs into his mouth. Anticipating easy prey, the devil jumps out of the bag and, sitting on the blacksmith's neck, promises him Oksana that very night. The cunning blacksmith, grabbing the devil by the tail and crossing him, becomes the master of the situation and orders the devil to take himself "to Petersburg, straight to the queen."
Having found Blacksmith's bags about that time, the girls want to take them to Oksana to see what Vakula caroled. They go after the sled, and Chubov's godfather, having called the weaver to help, drags one of the sacks into his hut. There, for the obscure but seductive contents of the bag, there is a fight with the godfather's wife. Chub and dyak are in the bag. When Chub, having returned home, finds a head in the second bag, his disposition towards Solokha is greatly reduced.
The blacksmith, galloping to Petersburg, comes to the Cossacks, who are passing through Dikanka in the autumn, and, pressing the devil in his pocket, tries to be taken to the queen's reception. Marveling at the luxury of the palace and the wonderful paintings on the walls, the blacksmith finds himself in front of the queen, and when she asks the Cossacks who came to ask for their Sich, “what do you want?”, the blacksmith asks her for her royal shoes. Touched by such innocence, Catherine draws attention to this passage of Fonvizin standing at a distance, and Vakula gives slippers, having received which he considers it good to go home.
In the village at this time, the Dikan women in the middle of the street are arguing about exactly how Vakula laid hands on himself, and the rumors that have come about embarrass Oksana, she does not sleep well at night, and not having found a pious blacksmith in the church in the morning, she is ready to cry . The blacksmith simply overslept Matins and Mass, and when he wakes up, he takes out a new hat and belt from the chest and goes to Chub to woo. Chub, wounded by Solokha's treachery, but seduced by gifts, agrees.