Sermon Notes

12 9 2018       The bad of Christmas

This time of year we all like to celebrate the GOOD part of Christmas.

John 1:1-5; 14  “In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God.  He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make.  Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.  The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it….So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.”  NLT

The Word becomes flesh, God with us.  Emmanuel.

But we don’t want to be honest about the bad part of Christmas.

Yes, Christmas has a bad side

Reality/ Murphy’s law usually sets in hard
Someone’s sewer will back up
Someone’s heat/AC will go out
Someone’s beautiful light display will fail…at the wrong time
Unrealized expectations
Don’t get the gift you want or need or can even use
Don’t get the reaction you want
Don’t enjoy the day as you planned
Stuff that happens during Christmas
Someone will cancel
Someone will over imbibe
Someone will fight or argue
You know that someone’s pets are gonna tear the tree down!
All your hard work will seem to have been wasted on in laws and outlaws who don’t appreciate everything you have done

Where does Christmas go bad?  How can such a joyFULL season take such a drastic turn…..downward?

When we lose focus on the WHY of Christmas – CHRISTMAS GOES

Christmas goes bad when we lose sight of WHO the season is about!

Learn from Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”  But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details!  There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it — and I won’t take it away from her.”  NLT

Christmas isn’t about gifts, or lights or Mistletoe
Christmas isn’t about meals, or snacks or even pie
Christmas isn’t even about time, schedules or travel,
Christmas isn’t about you!

Christmas is about The birth of Jesus! God with us!
In a manger now               Growing up among us
     Dying for us in a few short years            Rising again to save us
Here, With us here today
In us      Around us      Above us       
With us!

Christmas is also about the REASON for the REASON for the SEASON

We had really messed up

God wanted us to have a relationship with Him, an ETERNAL relationship

So He sent His Son as a baby, to be with us, to teach us the right way, to show us the better way and finally to die so we could travel that ONE WAY to God.

Messiah: The Promised deliverer of the Jewish Nation

Luke 2:8-14 “That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep.  Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”  Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God:  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” NLT


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11-18               Content and ThankFULL

Philippians 4:10-20 “How grateful I am, and how I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but for a while you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.  But even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.  As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once.  I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. What I want is for you to receive a well-earned reward because of your kindness.  At the moment I have all I need — more than I need! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable to God and pleases him.  And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.  Now glory be to God our Father forever and ever. Amen.”   NLT

America has become a CONSUMER SOCIETY

  • We all want more….better…faster….newer…shinier
  • We all want the newest and the bestest
    • We seem to never BE CONTENT
    • We never seem to be THANKFUL for what God has provided.
  • Paul was thankful for everything he received
    • Ministry funding
    • Relationships
  • Paul was THANKFULL and CONTENT with what he had
    • Happy when he had much
    • Happy when he had little
      • It really did not matter to Paul – He was good.
    • How?
      • He KNEW He could do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING with the help of Jesus Christ
      • Gave him strength
        • With a full belly
        • With an empty belly
        • With plenty of support
        • With very little support
      • Paul was able to do everything God had for him to do THROUGH Jesus Christ.
  • Does this mean we can drop giving for the Cooperative Program or Vocational Evangelists and just tell them to have more faith?
    • NO
    • Paul told the church at Philippi that:
      • They had done WELL to share with him
      • No other church supported him as they did
      • Their gifts made a DIFFERENCE FOR THE KINGDOM!
        • They needed to know that God led them to give and their gifts were important gifts of faith and obedience to God
          • They were a “sweet smelling sacrifice” that made God smile
  • Paul was content and thankful with everything God supplied him through the churches he served.
    • I am Thankful for this Church
    • I am Thankful for faithful members
    • I am thankful for those who visit
    • I am thankful for those who take initiative to get things done
      • A ministry
      • A project
      • A hug and compassionate ear
        • Self-motivated folks serving God by serving here at First Baptist
      • Are we?
      • Are you?

Be Grateful     Be PraiseFULL           Be ConcernedFULL

Be ContentFULL       Be ThankFULL          Be FaithFULL


The United States Military demands FOCUS.

Distractions are quickly dealt with.

Clothing is uniform.

Equipment is uniform.

Wording and response – uniform


Procedures are uniform

Everything is uniform

If the rocks vary too much – paint them and make them uniform.

The military has some very firm and ….colorful…ways of encouraging those who become distracted to get their FOCUS right.

Goal being no distractions and clarity of focus.

God expects the same from us!

Philippians 4:8-9 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.”    NLT

There seems to be a continuous Tsunami Wave of “STUFF” vying for our attention, our focus and our time.

We are BOMBARDED with internet, e-mail, commercials, bill boards, shouts, violence, news, beeping APP notifications, alarms, ringers, newspapers, car horns, lights and MORE

There is a WAR for your ATTENTION, and you are probably LOSING!

This DISTRACTION SICKNESS is overwhelming!


We need FOCUS

We need HELP!!!

We can turn off the Radio, TV, phone and computer for a little while BUT the withdraws soon set in and we are back on facebook or checking our e-mails or playing our game.

We rationalize and justify.


It is not that these TOOLS are not helpful to our lives, or beneficial to our work; it is the way we so QUICKLY become consumed by them and FORGET how to THINK and FOCUS on one singular thing.

We have developed the attention spans of a Golden Retriever Puppy, the memory of goldfish and somehow the superiority complex of a Siamese Cat!

We need FOCUS.


We need HELP!

Paul encourages us to FOCUS!

  • He told us to fix our thoughts on what is true and right
  • Paul wants us to think about what is pure and lovely
  • He encourages us to ponder things that excellent and worthy of praise.
  • Paul, who at one time, as Saul, had practiced a Godless religion that persecuted Christians, NOW encourages us to keep putting into practice all we had learned from him about living a life of faith, trust and service to God.
  • By reading the works of Paul in the Bible we can understand that Paul was encouraging people to FOCUS ON GOD!
    • Paul knew the peace of fixing our thoughts on Jesus Christ.
  • If you want the PEACE OF GOD
    • You must live life God’s Way
    • Faith
    • Hope
    • Love
    • Humility
    • Service

Focus your life on God and He will take care of everything

October 14th – Daniel 3 – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.   KEY Daniel 3:24 – 25

What gold statue are you bowing down to and turning away from God for?

What gold statue are you bowing down to because you find it easier than standing boldly for god in a lost world?

Why are we so timid or afraid?

  • Kings, Potentates and other governmental leaders of high rank have a way of making the government all about them
    • King Nebuchadnezzar had a gold statue in every town
    • When the music played you were supposed to stop whatever you were doing and bow to the ground and worship that statue.
  • BUT there were some men of faith who refused to worship either the gold statue or the man
    • They worshipped God and God alone
      • They were not afraid to challenge the King about his idolatry
      • They trusted God to protect them, save them and give them life
      • OR God would call them home, but they would NEVER worship a man.
    • The King was furious and had the furnace heated to 7 times hotter than normal
      • There are political leaders and parts of our society who would do his today to believers.
      • Some of the strongest men threw the 3 into the fiery furnace…and they all died because the flames :leaped out and killed them.”
      • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego fell into the fire,,,,,,,
    • The King looked in and in amazement DID NOT see ashes, he saw 4 men in the fire
        • Jesus is on the OT Scene doing what He does – SAVING people
      • Not a hair on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was singed, not a thread of clothing was burnt and there was not even a whiff of fire smell upon them!
        • JESUS SAVES
      • That Day, King Nebuchadnezzar learned that life was not about HIM and was not UP TO HIM!
        • He Praised God and led his country to do the same
      • What are you facing that seems bigger and more powerful than you ever could be?
        • Stand with God
      • What fiery trial are you caught up in that seems not only able but surely to burn down your life?
        • Stand with God
      • What ever you are facing today
        • Stand with God
        • Sometimes we wonder why God takes us through troubled waters
          • The answer usually is “because your enemies cannot swim.”
        • Walk with courage and commitment to God because God has got you!
        • We have no requirement to worship a government, a dictator or a bully!
          • We stand with God
      • What we do have are battles in the physical and spiritual realms.
        • What we do have is enemies who seek our destruction
        • What we do have is anxiety, fear and worry
          • How do we walk confidently in this BATTLEFIELD we call life?
            • We walk with God
    • Stand with God and with Peter and the Apostles when they cried out “”We must obey God rather than human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by crucifying him. 31 Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this to give the people of Israel an opportunity to turn from their sins and turn to God so their sins would be forgiven. 32 We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” …as recorded in the book of Acts 5:29-32

October 21st – Dan 6 – Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  *** Daniel 6:19 – 22

  1. Politicians can so easily become self consumed
    1. Make it all about them
    2. Easily manipulated by their arrogance and pride
    3. Used by the manipulators that know how to pull their strings
      1. Ego, pride, money, etc….
      2. Daniel was doing EVERYTHING right
        1. The manipulators were jealous of him and his soon coming promotion
          1. Instead of working harder and more diligently themselves
          2. The manipulators sought to TEAR DOWN Daniel
            1. Ruin his reputation
            2. Ruin the Kings view of him
            3. Take his life
  1. Sound familiar?
    1. We do that far too often today
  2. For 30 days everyone MUST pray to no one else but you.
    1. I am not sure what he thought he would do in response to all these prayers
      1. They fed his ego
    2. Daniel had two choices once he heard the new law:
      1. Compromise his faith for 30 days
        1. It is just for a month then were are back on track
        2. What could it hurt?
  • I will live to worship another day
    1. Cowards route
    2. Faith failure
    3. Kept him in favor with King Darius
    4. Solidify his promotion
    5. Personal gain
  1. Live for God as he always had lived
    1. Consistent faith
    2. Conviction
  • Character
  1. Trust God with the results
  1. Daniel had the COURAGE and FAITH to chose God
  2. We face these same two choices
    1. Not always from our politicians or the “powers that Be”
      1. Sometimes with friends
      2. Sometimes with family
      3. Sometimes with co-workers
        1. How will we choose?
  1. Who is trying to manipulate you into being who THEY want you to be?
  2. Who is jealous of your success?
  3. Who wants you OUT OF THEIR WAY?
  1. How strong is your faith?
  2. Do you have Daniels courage?
  1. The evil manipulators ran to the King and told them that Daniel broke the law and continued to pray to God, as was his tradition and routine
    1. Is it yours?
    2. The manipulators told the King that his favorite had violated law, and knew he would have to kill him
    3. The king was furious and broken
      1. Angry with himself
        1. Angry about being used
      2. He tried to find a legal way out, but could not
  • Daniel had to be thrown in the lions den or the king could lose power and authority.
  1. Into the den of lions Danial was thrown and the lid was sealed.
    1. No escape
    2. And the lions were hungry
    3. Daniel had displayed great courage and now his death appeared certain.
  2. The next morning it was the king himself who was most concerned about Daniel
    1. He ran to the den, had the lid removed and was hoping that somehow Daniel survived.
  3. God had protected Daniel
    1. Not even a scratch from the hungry lions
  4. The king was overjoyed
  5. Daniel was NOT rebellious against the king but remained humble and respectful
  6. The king proclaimed that Daniels God was the God who rescues and saves His people
  7. God rewarded the lions for their obedience with a good meal of failed politicians
  8. Daniel prospered in service to God by serving King Darius and King Cyrus.

Daniel was a man of faith in God

Daniel was a man of great Courage

A leader must first be a servant to all before he can lead anyone.

In Daniel Chapter six God lays out the other necessary qualities of a God-fearing leader.  They are:

  • A person of Faith in God
  • A person of Character
  • A person of Consistency
  • A person of Conviction
  • A person of Conscience
  • A person of Courage
  • A person of Truth
  • A person of Honesty
  • A person who Serves

These simple principles apply to all leaders, man and women, young and old, local, state and federal.  They also apply to our homes, churches and workplaces.

General Douglas McArthur defined the greatest quality of a leader as Selflessness.

True leaders serve God by serving those God has appointed them to lead.

9 23                 Unity/Tolerance

There are many forces seeking to drive people, communities, ….countries apart.  We need look no further than our newspapers, News shows or internet media to understand that is our reality.

God warned us about this behavior.

FOCAL:      Romans 16:17-18 “And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things that are contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.  NLT

We CAN choose a better path!

Say NO to intolerance

There are those who would seek to divide and destroy us based on differences in color, heritage, political sides or other frivolous excuses.

Don’t let them

Yes, we do have differences.  So what.?

We used to be able to recognize them, deal with them, laugh at them, and move on.

Over the past 10 years or so it seems we only use them to go to war with each other.

There are times I think people are looking for things to divide us, separate us and make us fight; creating new ways to divide.

Don’t let them

We need to regain our collective sense of humor, tolerance and UNITY

We used to be able to laugh together about each other without the anger

Mel Brooks, Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, the Rat Pack and Richard Pryor gave us lots of material to laugh at…. they would be arrested today or terrorized.

Why and When did we stop laughing together and start fighting

A sense of humor is a terrible thing to lose

Our Founding Fathers created our Constitution to unify us, not divide us.  A common foundation and basic rules for government.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Union:  an act or instance of uniting or joining two or more things into one.  The growing together of SEVERED parts.

We are severed today.  We need UNITY!

In Christian theology, unity is the oneness of sentiment, affection or behavior. “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  Psalm 133

But how do we find this UNITY?      Faith, Hope and Love.

Colossians 3:12-15 “Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”   NLT

Amos 3:3 “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”   NLT

We may NEVER agree on everything, but we MUST agree on direction OR their WILL BE division

There is ONE WAY to repairing unity.  Jesus Christ.

Will You Walk with Him?

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