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Ready of Not Here I Come. 12 Days of Christmas (Sermon Spice Video).

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slide2

12 Days of Christmas

  • (Sermon Spice Video)
slide3

Christmas comes with an assortment of obligations, duties, activities, observances, and traditions. These activities are compressed into our already frazzled lives. Christmas is going to come regardless of whether or not you

  • have sent the cards,
  • lighted the tree,
  • wrapped the
  • presents, or
  • finished your
  • shopping.
slide4

Time is the one commodity that we can't generate more of. We can make additional money. Energy can be enhanced. But we only have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes

  • in an hour, and 24 hours
  • in a day. No more, no
  • less.
slide5

In case you aren't counting, presently, there are 2 days, or 63 hours, or 3,780 minutes, or 226,800 seconds to Christmas. The clock is ticking. Time is running out.

slide6

A mob of Wal-Mart shoppers rushing for a $29 DVD player trampled Patricia VanLester and knocked her unconscious on Friday, November 28, 2003 the day after Thanksgiving. Her sister, Linda Ellzey watched, “She got

  • pushed down, and
  • they walked over
  • her like a herd of
  • elephants. I told
  • them, ‘Stop
  • stepping on my
  • sister! She’s on the
  • ground!’”
slide7

Crowds are synonymous with Christmas. The Malls are packed, the check out lines wind around forever, the roads are crammed with cars, airports are jammed, even churches have a few more people than normal. Even our homes are

  • teeming with
  • additional
  • decorations,
  • parties, and
  • activities.
slide8

The problem with crowds at Christmas is that they tend to trample Jesus, just like the mob of shoppers that trampled Patricia VanLester. We get so involved in the shopping that we miss the Savior. We are so busy with

  • travel that
  • Jesus is left
  • home alone.
slide9

Many years ago a very wealthy European family held a christening for their child. Many guests were invited to the home for the occasion. They arrived in their big cars wearing the high style fashions. Their jackets and coats were carried to a bedroom and laid upon the beds. After hors d’oeuvres and the usual lot of

  • conversation and
  • commotion, they
  • were ready for the
  • christening ceremony.
slide10

“Where’s the baby?” someone asked.

  • The nanny ran upstairs to look. She returned several minutes later. The baby was nowhere to be found. Someone remembered that the child had last been seen lying on one of the beds, and after a frantic investigation the little child was found smothered under the coats and jackets of
  • the guests. The chief
  • reason why they had
  • come had been
  • forgotten, neglected,
  • and destroyed.
slide11

Crowds and clamor have a tendency to smother Jesus at Christmas. He, more often than not, is forgotten, neglected, and if we aren’t careful, destroyed.

slide13

December 22, 2008Employee Forced to Say “Happy Holidays” Was Fired After Objecting to the GreetingPanama City, FL – Tonia Thomas, a rental assistant for Counts Oakes Resort Properties, was fired on December 10, 2008 after she objected to saying “Happy Holidays.” 

slide14

Back in 1991, Dave Barry wrote this in his weekly column:“To avoid offending anybody, our school dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such

  • as ‘Winter Wonderland,’
  • ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and
  • ‘Suzy Snowflake,’ all of
  • which is pretty funny
  • because we live in
  • Miami. A visitor from
  • another planet would
  • assume that the children
  • belonged to the Church of
  • Meteorology.”
slide15

Why has Christmas gotten so complicated? How can you take such a simple story as found in Luke and end up with the type of Christmas we have today?

  • Jesus is the
  • Reason for the
  • Season.
  • Or is He?
slide17

About the middle of the fourth century, the Bishop of Jerusalem wrote to the Bishop of Rome and he asked him to determine the actual date of Christ's birth.  Well, no one knows the actual date of Christ's birth, the fact of the matter is we don't even know for sure the actual year of

  • His birth.  But the
  • Bishop of Rome sent
  • word back to the
  • Bishop of Jerusalem
  • that it occurred on
  • December 25. 
slide18

The bishop didn't know the date of Christ's birth,  December 25 is purely arbitrary.  But he didn't do it for purely arbitrary reasons.  He was a fairly shrewd guy and he had a reason for putting the celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25.  For centuries before Christ

  • was born, the month of
  • December had been an
  • occasion long established
  • as a pagan festival.  It
  • marked the winter and
  • great celebration was
  • held in anticipation of
  • the coming spring. 
slide19

Everything around was dark and dreary and trees were without leaves and things didn't grow.  So in the midst of winter they held great celebrations hoping for the return of the sun to bring back the spring and make things grow and warm again.Feasting and parties were part of the celebration. People would adorn their houses with evergreens anticipating the plants and trees that would

  • soon bloom. They
  • even adorned their
  • houses with mistletoe
  • and exchanged gifts.
  • This was all a
  • part of the traditional
  • pagan celebration.
slide20

Now the bishop's idea was to take the birth of Christ and put it around the same time to coincide with all the ancient festivals and all the wild winter revelries, in hopes to draw the attention of the people away from those things that they were engaged in into

  • more spiritual pursuits
  • and start making them
  • think about the fact
  • that God came into the
  • world in human form.
slide21

While the old bishop might have had a good motive for what he did, but it didn't help.  Putting the birth of Jesus Christ on the same day as all the rest of this only served to clutter the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  The church which frowned on heathen festivities and

  • wanted to change them
  • finally accepted them
  • and let them be
  • assimilated into the
  • celebration of
  • Christmas.
slide23

Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)

  • 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
  • 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
slide25

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  

  • In what days? 
  • “In the days of Herod king of Judea.” Luke 1:5   We know about Herod’s animosity toward the birth of one who might take his throne and how he slaughtered all the babies in that region hoping that he would kill a rival king who had been born.  Herod wasn't even a Jew, he was an Edomite and the Edomites were despised by the Israelites. 
  • They had been cursed because of the way they treated Israel and God.  Edomites were descendents of Esau.
  • He was just a vassal king under Rome.
slide26

These were the days of Roman occupation and taxation in Israel. 

  • Romans were Gentiles and were considered unclean.  A Jew would rarely go into the home of a Gentile because he would be defiled by even entering that place.  He wouldn't eat on utensils prepared by Gentiles because they would be unclean and defiled.  If he had to leave the borders of Israel and travel in a Gentile land, he would come back and he would do what's become a familiar phrase, he would shake the dust off before entering Israel lest he bring Gentile dirt in
  • and pollute his nation.  Israel had no love
  • for the Romans because they worshipped
  • many gods. They brought their idols into
  • Israel on their banners, on their suits of
  • armor, and on their coins. (They put
  • Caesar's image on a coin and they believed
  • Caesar to be a god... so they saw the coinage
  • of Rome as idols.) 
slide27

They didn't think the Romans had any right to be in their land, and they certainly didn't think they had any right to exact taxes from them.  They hated, more severely, the Jews who bought franchises to collect taxes for Rome, they were the

  • ultimate outcasts,
  • the ultimate traitors.
slide28

This decree came out of Rome from the reigning Caesar, Caesar Augustus.  (His actual name was Gaius Octavius. "Caesar" is a title like king. "Augustus" is an adjective meaning majestic one. And it was a title given to him by the Roman Senate.  

slide29

His mother was Julius Caesar’s sister.  For whatever reasons Julius Caesar took a tremendous affinity to this boy.  At the age of 20, Julius Caesar adopted him as his own son and declared him to be the heir to the throne of the Roman Empire. He was such a remarkable man

  • that he was called,
  • and it's inscribed in
  • stone, "the savior of
  • the world." That's
  • how highly he was
  • revered. He was
  • worshiped as a god
  • and as a deity.
slide30

3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

  • As far as we know, everyone returning to their home town was not a Roman stipulation. The Romans would have been happy for people to register in the town they lived in. So most likely it was a Jewish stipulation. Since the scribes were meticulous about keeping genealogical records in
  • their local areas, the
  • Jews decided that
  • everybody should go
  • back to their home
  • place to register for
  • the census and update
  • their records.
slide31

Everyone had to register for two reasons.  It was done to draw people into the military service, to find out who all the military-age young men were. (The Jews were exempt from this.) They also had to register their name, their occupation,

  • their property, their family...
  • into the Rome IRS
  • agency for the purpose of
  • taxation.
slide32

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

slide36

They had no support system with them, so they were very alone. They had planned to have the baby at home. It would have been easy. Joseph would have waited outside until it was all over. Nice and neat and clean. But now this Caesar had messed things up.

slide37

It had been a long, hard day on the road, and the two travelers were exhausted. It was a long trip no matter when you traveled, but this time of year the roads were so clogged that it took even longer.

slide38

Three days had passed since they left Nazareth. Two more days and they would be in Bethlehem. For Mary’s part, she just wished it was over. Traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem took 100 miles through some of the most desolate country on earth. She, of course, was

  • pregnant.
slide39

Anyone could tell by looking at her that the baby wasn’t going to wait much longer. She was in that stage where you can’t get comfortable no matter what you do. Walking hurts, standing hurts, sitting hurts, lying down hurts, eating is hard and breathing isn’t much better.

slide40

It was a long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They couldn’t go the short way because that would take them through Samaria and the Jews wouldn’t travel through Samaritan territory. So to get from Nazareth in the north to Bethlehem in the south you traveled east to the Jordan River, followed the valley south to

  • Jericho, then west
  • up the Jericho road
  • through the
  • mountains to
  • Jerusalem, then a
  • quick jog south to
  • Bethlehem.
slide41

When they arrived in Bethlehem, the tiny hamlet was crowded. People were stirring everywhere, and apparently motel row was in great chaos. The manager of the local Motel 6 had difficulty leaving his light on because of all those coming to town to register. People were probably

  • sleeping on the
  • streets, in alleys,
  • or anywhere else
  • they could find a
  • spot.
slide42

And here is poor Mary and Joseph, desperately needing a place to stay. They needed a warm bed, a roof overhead, a slice of cheese and bread. But the no vacancy signs all flashed in neon red. There was not a

  • single bed available.
slide43

I gotta say, hats off to Mary and Joseph for improvising and keeping a godly attitude! They traveled all week long…while she was pregnant…they finally get there…and no room. Keepin’ it real with you – I would have been ticked!

slide44

If I were Jesus’ parent…the Bible would be radically different today. You’d be able to find my story in something like the book of:

  • 1st Irritations 2: “Bob and his pregnant wife, Bekki, traveled all week long and were exhausted. When they got there, Bekki delivered her baby. But there was no room in the inn. Bob went off on the Inn Keeper! You gotta be kidding me! Do you have ANY idea who I am? Do you have ANY idea who my Son is? Oh, okay…no room for us in the inn, huh? We will remember this when YOU’RE hoping for a room one day.”
slide45

The inn keeper was obviously busy with a full inn, but apparently, he made an effort to help the young couple. He saw the need and came to their rescue. An inn would have had a shelter for animals that were used by the travelers.

slide46

More often than not, the shelters were caves, on the outside of town, but they were also

  • attached buildings to the house or inn. Apparently, they were directed to this shelter which would have been pretty smelly, but at least private, if you don’t count the animals!
slide47

6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

slide48

“Do we make room for Jesus? Do we make room for others?

  • Truly I tell you,
  • whatever you did for
  • one of the least of these
  • brothers and sisters of
  • mine, you did for me.
  • Matthew 25:40
slide49

There are people that are hurting all around us in the part of the world God has given us to minister.They need a touch that can serve as a conduit of the healing grace of God.

  • Can God count on us to be
  • that touch or are we too busy?
slide50

That night, God, the proud father, sent out a birth announcement like none other. Never before had God taken on human flesh. This child, God incarnate, would change the world.

slide51

The citizens of Bethlehem did not hear the announcement of the baby. The tiny town was too jam-packed, too noisy, too consumed, too preoccupied. The mayor of Bethlehem didn’t get the announcement. The High Priest in Jerusalem was left out of the loop. So, too, was Caesar

  • Augustus and the
  • members of his
  • Royal court. Why?
  • too crowded, too
  • busy, too noisy.
slide52

How can it be that a time that is meant to be an expression of love be so characterized by busyness, exhaustion, and confusion?

slide53

Richard Foster wrote in his book Celebration of Discipline, “In contemporary society our Adversary (Satan) majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.” At no time of the year is this observation a greater reality. Could it be that the crowds, the shopping, the bell ringing and music playing, the increased numbers of activities, the fast-paced lifestyles are simply a ploy of Satan to keep us from the Savior?

slide55

The innkeeper reminds me of people who become so consumed with the commotion of Christmas that they miss the Christ of Christmas. They are addicted to activity, not necessarily sinful activity, just things that keep one occupied. The clutter of shopping, parties, concerts,

  • dinners
  • preoccupy their
  • day. They are too
  • busy for the Son
  • of God.
slide56

Herod is not unlike the men and women today who won't allow anything to interfere with their career, position in life, ambition, plans, or lifestyle. They won't let someone else be king of their lives. They see Jesus as a threat so they don't make

  • time for him. Allegiance
  • to someone else other
  • than themselves is
  • unthinkable.
slide57

The religious leaders never bothered to travel the five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to find out for themselves if the Messiah had indeed been born. Surely they saw the star. They heard the news about the infant born in Bethlehem. Why did they not make time for Jesus? Indifference. They didn't care. They had all the facts but the Messiah was not really important to them. They didn't have time for the Savior because they felt they didn't need him. They were self-righteous, believing they were already all that God could ever want them to be. They had no time for the Savior.

slide58

Year after year with "tireless regularity and eternal patience" God reminds the world every Christmas that he sent his Son, Jesus, to save lost mankind. Christmas is also God's reminder that Jesus is coming back to earth for all who have accepted him as their personal Lord and Savior.His first coming is an indisputable fact of history. His second coming to end this world is just as certain. The clock is ticking. Time is running out.

slide60

Rick Ezell: I Do Not Have Time

  • David Elvery: Don't Miss the Baby
  • Paul Decker: Touch Your Neighbors
  • Rick Ezell: It's Too Crowded
  • John MacArthur: Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem