A Christmas Message (outline)
“Signs On The Way To Christmas”
Intro: For many Christmas doesn’t mean much. For some it is only Santa Claus. For others it is getting gifts. For the store owners and merchants it is a great time to make money. Toy makers. Auto sales. Groceries. There are lots of decorations, lights and … “its beginning to look a lot like Christmas …”
But to us who are Christians it is Christ. We are ____ days from Christmas. We are on the way to Christmas. As we think of being on the way – I want us to go WAY back. Back to the beginning and see some of the signs, the lights along the way.
Gen 3:15 – An unusual sign for Christmas. A serpent. This was a promise of coming victory. Not yet, but coming – we are on our way to Christmas. The Devil defeated and God’s covenant for grace. This help us see ahead on the way to Christmas.
Gen 9:13 – A colorful sign on the way to Christmas. A bow. This was a promise of coming peace. After judgment by flood. A promise connected to the flood that came and the rescue of Noah in the ark. No more total destruction by water. Someone was coming to rescue all mankind
Gen 22:10-18 – Another strange sign for Christmas. A knife. The promise of a son. The son to be sacrificed. But here is a sign that showed the way to Christmas. Another son was coming. Another sacrifice was imminent. Another Lamb but this one would take away the sins of the world.
Exo 12:3; 7;11 – The sign of the passover lamb. Slain. Bloody. The promise that God was making provision for sin.
Exodus 24:3; 8 – Moses had received the law, the commandments. He read them. The people promised to do them. They made a covenant in blood. The law was a sign to point us to Christmas. Rom 10:4
2 Sam 7:8; 13 The covenant / sign of an everlasting kingdom. Promise that in the midst of failing kingdoms and passing kings one was coming that would reign eternally.
Then after the long way – all the signs. We come to Christmas. One night the angels announced his coming to the shepherd. Go. See. Tell. Have you traveled to Christmas. Have you seen the Christ who came / Who is the fulfillment of all those early signs the fulfillment of all those promise. He came to defeat sin and give victory to rescue you from judgment and give you peace to be the sacrifice that was needed – God’s lamb to take away your sins – to cover your sins to pass over you / no condemnation – to guide you to holiness – new creature and to make you part of an everlasting kingdom that will know NO end. Christmas!
Are You Looking?
From my Bible study in 2 Peter 3:10-18 I send out these few thoughts:
Just what are you looking for? The attitudes and actions, the beliefs and practices of many would indicate that they are looking and preparing for something entirely different than the apostle Peter was writing about. Many seem to be preparing for a place that makes them comfortable, that allows looseness and sin, that elevates worldliness and sinfulness in our midst. BUT …
For those of us LOOKING for the coming day of the Lord and that new heaven and new earth need to understand and realize THIS place we are looking for is a place of RIGHTEOUSNESS not WORLDLINESS.
The apostle Peter asked this question. It is as appropriate when he wrote it as it is for us today.
What manner of persons ought ye to be? Good question! WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO I NEED TO BE? As THE END draws nearer, as all the world events, wars and disasters align with prophecy WHAT MANNER OF PERSON are you?
Peter gives us some counsel in his words while asking this question – he writes, “in all HOLY conversation and godliness.” (vs 11)
Peter continues by saying that if you are one of those looking, (vs 14) “be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
So, if you are LOOKING for JESUS, take a look in your mirror right now and ask yourself this question: What do I see? What does my life show? Do I see holiness? Do I see godliness?
Lord help me. I am looking today. Help me be diligent for You. Help me be a person of peace, clean up my life and help me have a testimony today that will help me fit in with that place you are making for me in the future.
There are people out there who are UNSTABLE SOULS in the habit of getting their own way (vs 14). They have forsaken the right way (vs 15), they are seduced through lust of their flesh (vs 18), they are promised liberty (vs 19) but are actually servants of corruption and are brought into bondage.
THERE IS A WAY OF ESCAPE! THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!
If you don’t get out, the end is worse than the beginning (vs 20). It would have been better to have NEVER known the way of righteousness than to have known and TURN from the HOLY commandment. (vs 21)
Will you be like the DOG? Or the HOG? Returning to their own vomit or wallowing in the mire. (vs 22)
I have a WORD for you.
Stay in the Bible until the Day Star arises in your heart.
A couple of our men (Marcos Sosa and Carlos Santos) in Guatemala sent me these pictures yesterday. They were working on a sustainability project at our newest church plant in Santo Tomas. We are currently renting this property but doing our best to raise the $120,000 that we need to buy the two buildings and land that you see in the photos. I laughed when I saw the photo and the caption he sent. He said, “This is hard, laboring work.” And it is. Their present project is to plant the field behind the buildings in corn and other vegetables that they can sell to help supplement their personal incomes and the church ministry. It is a worthy effort. I commend them. It is necessary. It is a step in the right direction of autonomous ministry.
For over 20 years I have worked in impoverished countries, evangelizing, discipling and church planting. It has been a tremendous blessing but has always been filled with special challenges. Today I am addressing just one of these challenges, that being the work of teaching and realizing autonomy for the churches we plant. Every place, every pastor and every church is different, even within the same country. In some cases there is a genuine desire in the heart of the pastor and the people to become self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating. In others there resides a difficult and often times hard resistance on the part of both the pastor and or the church to take on the mature responsibilities of caring for themselves. They quickly grow complacent with having someone else take care of them and bear them along in life.
I know what it is like to be both a pastor planting a new church, a husband, father and provider for my family. I have had to work secular jobs outside the church ministry, as has my wife (more than I) in order for us to make ends meet in our home and to carry forth the church to sustainability. It is not easy. But it is at times necessary. I am writing these words, which will also be translated so that those I am presently working together with in various places and in diverse situations will consider long, pray and work much in order to come to the place where they have a biblically based church. As much as a pastor may want to be the lead, to be the head, the senior, the boss or whatever – as long as they have outside support they are never fully autonomous. We need autonomous churches. Brethren, pray for us!
We will never know the reach of our lives fully until we get to heaven, however, from time to time we get small glimpses of how the Lord might be using us as we minister for him. Recently I was communicating with a long-time friend that I have had nearly no contact with for years. He even had this to say in our recent communication: “Well, I guess we’ve exchanged more information in two days than in the last two decades.” That is true. He is embarking upon a new pastorate and we were exchanging thoughts about ministry. I had helped him in a new church plant more than 20 years ago.
In his email he mentioned the following: “I purchased at least three of your titles for Kindle. If I could get your permission, I’d like to make a few copies of the section in the Missions book about speaking in the Catholic church in Ireland for our folks. At least four of our people were Catholic, but find it difficult to think that others with that background could respond to the gospel. I think it would encourage them and others to read what amazing doors the Lord can open.”
We are always thankful for the Lord opening doors for us. We want to continue in His work, faithful to His leading. We are at such a cross road now. We have great opportunities before us and only God can work behind the scenes, in the places we cannot see and cannot reach to accomplish His purpose for His glory. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:18-19
Please pray for this project. Circle it in prayer with us. It is a vision beyond our resources, but certainly not beyond Gods. Each day God is giving us new promises and funds in hand for this effort. We believe this summer we will be able to continue the church plant, add the Bible Institute, the clinics and soon add the orphan and widow care centers that we are planning for this location. We need your help! Click on PayPal.