Welcome to Christmas 2020!
What a ridiculous year. Probably the strangest and most difficult in my lifetime, and even in world history COVID 19 has rained on many a parade.
But we can’t blame COVID for what the world has changed Christmas into, it’s been happening for a long time.
WHAT HAS CHRISTMAS 2020 EVOLVED INTO?
We’ve bemoaned over many years the commercialisation of Christmas. It started with guy in a red suit, then they were replacing Christ with an X, Xmas instead of Christmas. Next up, you can’t even say Merry Christmas, for fear of offending Muslims and Hindus and athiests… It has to be Happy Holidays. Notice there is no restrictions against Ramadan or Deepavali. I’m not allowed to be offended.
We complained for years that Christmas is too commercial and not using the name of Jesus. They’ve made it too generic. It’s all about the money, it’s all about not offending anybody, anybody except Christians it appears. Big W now sells grand pine trees or white forest trees, but all reference to Christmas has been removed for fear it offends. Well that offends me! Do hey know it’s Christmas time at all?
But hey, do we really want retailers invoking the name of Jesus to sell their goods? “Come and celebrate the birth of Jesus with an ice cold VB.””Jesus would have bought a Jeep.”
You all know the wonderful Christmas story, how God gave the best of heaven as a gift to buy our souls back from death. Jesus came that first Christmas not as a King, but as a baby, meek and mild as the song says. We know He grew into a man, gave His life and rose from death. At Christmas we remember the first act of Jesus’ redemptive plan… He came to earth.
And the world for the most part has clouded and distorted this message with tinsel, sales, family time and fat guys in red suits.
I’m sick of the world claiming what’s always been ours! They murder babies and sick people and call it mercy, they take our rainbow of promise and make it about gays and Lesbians , and they refuse to let us mention Christ at Christmas and even outlaw the name Christmas for fear it might offend.
Well that offends me! So today I want to re-establish the word Christmas, to win it back from a fearful, hopeless, sin soaked, corona virus riddled world, who needs the message of Jesus more than ever before!
Christmas 2020 as an acronym…
C – CHRIST
Christmas is not about Santa, or presents, or family, it is and has always been about Jesus Christ. The first Christmas was not a random event, it had been planned by God from before time began. God knew we would be sinners, He knew we would need a Saviour and He sent His Son to redeem or buy us back from hell.
John 1:14 (ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
And this baby lying in a manger is God in the flesh. He did not remain a baby for long, but grew into a perfect man, and chose to lay down His sinless life to buy your soul back from hell. That’s the ultimate Christmas present!
H – HOLY SPIRIT
The Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are evident in the Christmas story.
John 3:16 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Luke 1:34-35 (ESV)
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
God is one God, but He is 3 persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we see all three here in the Christmas story. So H is for the Holy Spirit, through whom Mary conceived.
R – REDEMPTION
The whole Christmas story is all about redemption.
Galatians 3:13 (ESV)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us
There are several Greek words translate redemption, but they all have similar meanings. In this case the word is EXAGORAZO, meaning to buy up, buy back, ransom or to rescue from loss.
The image is of a slave, without hope of paying the price required for freedom, being bought by someone who can pay that price and saves from a grim fate.
And this is Christmas. We are destined for hell and unable to save ourselves, but God sent the best of heaven, His one and only Son, to die in our place and pay the price for sin, which is death. He bought every one of us back from the consequences of our sin, which is death and hell.
R is for redeemed, because Jesus bought us back from death.
I – IMMANUEL
Centuries before the birth of Christ Isaiah prophesied
Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)/ Matthew 1:23 (ESV)
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Immanuel literally means GOD WITH US. With apologies to Bette Midler, No longer is God watching us from a distance. He is right here, He lives in the hearts of those who love Him.
And that promise is fulfilled in Christmas. God is not far away, not distant and not detached…
Acts 17:27 (ESV)
they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
James 4:8 (ESV)
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Today, this Christmas 2020, God is with us, and He waits for you to respond to His wonderful gift. He longs to be close to you. Christmas 2020 is a time to reconnect with God, to get closer to Him. How will you respond?
S – SALVATION
Christmas is about giving, and Jesus is God’s gift to you, because through Him and only through Him can you be saved from the penalty of your sins.
The Bible says all have sinned, and fallen short. You have, I have, every person sins. Sin is when we dishonour God, and we disrespect Him, and we all live like that. People say a loving God will never send people to hell, but that’s not true. We all deserve hell, but a loving God opens a way for us to be bought back from the just consequences of our behaviour.
Acts 4:12 (ESV)
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Christmas is about giving, and God gave the greatest Christmas gift by sending His Son. Who laid His life down, substituting Himself in our place, dying for you and me. This is the greatest Christmas 2020 gift, and this is salvation from hell for us!
T – THANKSGIVING
The greatest sin of the Western world is an ungrateful Spirit. We have so much, and we are so ungrateful. But we need to have thanksgiving this Christmas, because God has bought us back from death.
Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This Christmas 2020 we should thank God for His many blessings. Family, friends, church. We should thank Him for His provision, protection and promises. Let’s replace stinking thinking with a gratitude attitude.
M – MISSION
Christmas is the first phase of Jesus’ divine mission to save the world. We love to clutter Christmas 2020 up with presents, good feelings and fat guys in red suits, but the fact is this was God’s moment of sending His Son on a divine rescue mission.
Mission impossible? Yes, but God is the God of the impossible.
John 15:13 (ESV)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
That was Jesus’ mission. He didn’t come to start Christmas, He didn’t come to give presents or institute a holiday. He came with the mission of saving the world.
Before Superman, Batman, Spiderman or Ironman was the Son of Man, God who became man to lay down His life for us whom He now calls friend.
1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
The miracles, the prophecies, the wise words, the parables, all these awesome things never distracted Jesus from His central, divine mission of saving the world, saving our souls from an eternity separated from God.
A – ACCEPTANCE (BY ALL PEOPLE)
God wants us all to accept His free gift of His Son today.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God wants every person to repent, to ask for forgiveness and invite His Christmas gift Jesus Christ into your heart. But you can’t receive eternal life until you accept what Jesus has done.
Romans 10:9 (ESV)
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
You can try success, you can try relationships, you can try drugs, alcohol or sex, you can try yoga or voodoo or Islam or tradition or even church-based religion, but nothing can substitute for accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. The greatest gift of all is eternal life, and it is offered to you freely this Christmas 2020. But, you have to accept it.
Now some gifts are harder to receive than others. Imagine this Christmas 2020 someone gave you a book on dieting, or overcoming selfishness. Accepting such gifts is hard because in doing so you have to admit you have flaws and weaknesses. (I’m fat and obnoxious.)
That’s why arrogant, self sufficient people don’t accept God’s gift of His Son. To accept it you have to humble yourself and admit your sin and your need of a Saviour.
Most people believe in God, and many accept the Christmas story, but they refuse the gift Himself because accepting Him makes us confront the truth that we are sinners, enslaved by our passions and trusting our own way instead of Jesus.
But you cannot be saved this morning except by accepting Jesus into your life, as Saviour, yes, but also as Lord. Accepting Him is not lips service, it entails you giving all of your life to Him, allowing Him to direct you and change you.
S – SANCTIFICATION
The final letter in our acronym is an interesting word… Sanctification.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sanctify is HAGIAZO, which means to make holy, cleanse, purify or separate from impure things.
Salvation takes but a moment, but sanctification takes a lifetime. Jesus loves you so much He saves you just as you are. But He loves you so much He doesn’t keep you that way, but slowly transforms your life into a life worth living!
The gift God brought that first Christmas doesn’t stop when you come to Jesus and are saved. Accepting Him as Lord and Saviour is not simply mouthing magic words. Faith, as we heard last week, is shown by a changed life, a sanctified life, and the Holy Spirit comes into your life to change it for good, forever!
GIVE US OUR CHRISTMAS BACK!
Christmas is not some cute old story. It’s not some covert, fundamentalist attempt to distort young minds, and it’s not an excuse to have a sale. Christmas 2020 is God’s salvation mission, led by His Son, empowered by His Spirit and through Christmas and later Easter it not only saves us for all eternity, it changes us for the better starting right now!
We want our Christmas back! Don’t tell us we are offending people by calling it what it’s always been, don’t tell us we can’t speak about Christmas in schools, don’t sell us the lie that it’s all about families and good feelings and sales, we want it back!
That’s why they want to take Jesus out of Christmas, because they are frightened at what one man, one woman one church might do if we really started living for Christ. If we lived Christmas, Christ with us, every day.
GOD’S CHRISTMAS 2020 GIFT TO YOU IS A SAVIOUR
Christmas is the promise, Easter is the proof, but they all form part of the divine plan to bring eternal life to you and me.
If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator;
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist;
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist;
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer;
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
so God sent us a Saviour.
John 3:16-18 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Will you accept this gift today?
I want to give you the opportunity to give Jesus a Christmas present. After all, it’s supposed to be His birthday. What better day to give Him your life totally?