Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church: Presence Not Presents/ The Heart of Christmas 2 To hear this message and others go to THEGATHERINGCHURCH.COM
Sermon Springboard: Santa Baby by Eartha Kit
Presents Matthew 6:19-24, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19, Proverbs 23:4-5 Phil Springer and Joan Javits were being ironic and funny when they wrote Santa baby for Eartha Kit in 1953. At any rate it became a Christmas holiday hit! But do we know people like the material girl in the song? How material and superficial are you at Christmastime? How material and superficial are you at anytime?
There are many warnings in the Bible about giving in to greed and longing for riches. Jesus warned us against it; “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”(Luke 12:15). Jesus reminds us that one cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6 19-24). In contrast, Jesus became poor for our sake (2 Corinthians 8:9). He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:43–45).
Greed and a desire for riches are traps that bring ruin and destruction. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”(1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-19). In Ephesians 5:5, The Apostle Paul called a greedy person an idolater (a person who worships a false god) who had no inheritance in the kingdom of God.
It is the love of money, and not money itself, that is the problem. The love of money is a sin because it gets in the way of worshiping God. Jesus said it was very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:16-22). By instructing him to give up his money, Jesus pointed out the young man’s main problem: greed or a love of money. The man could not follow Christ because he was following money. His love of this world interfered with his love for God.
Greed refuses to be satisfied. More often than not, the more we get, the more we want. Money or wealth is not the problem. The problem is our attitude toward it. I have known people without much to be far more greedy than those who have plenty. A greedy poor man will do anything to be rich, while a greedy rich man will giveaway nothing to be free. When we place our confidence in wealth or are consumed by a desire for more, we are failing to give God the glory and worship He deserves. We are to serve God, not waste our time trying to become rich (Proverbs 23:4-5). If we are a Christian it is God’s kingdom we are to build and not our own—it is His will that is to be done and not ours (Matthew 6:9-10).
If Christmas, or life for that matter, is all about presents (what you are getting or what you feel you are entitled too), then you are not experiencing the heart of Christmas or Christianity.
Presence Luke 2:13-14, John 14:15-21, 25-27, Psalms 16:7-11 The heart of Christmas is not presents but the presence of God with us. When the angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds the proclamation was “peace to those on whom God’s favor rests” (Luke 2 13-14). God’s favor does not rest on everyone but only upon those who make Him Lord (Master).
God’s presence can only be with one who is born again (John 3:3). One of Jesus’ titles is “Immanuel,” which means “God with us”(Matthew 1:23). When Jesus came into this world, He was truly, literally “God with us.” Even now God is with the believer because when Jesus went away He sent His Spirit to be with us (John 16:7) always. He has not left us as orphans ( John 14:15-21, 25-27). He lives within us, teaches us all things, reminds us of everything He has said. He has filled the believer with His presence and peace. Because God is with us: 1. We know that we will never be separated from His love (Romans 8:38-39). 2. God’s presence assures us that we can accomplish His will for us (1 Chronicles 22:17-19). 3. God’s presence overcomes our fear, worry, and dissatisfaction (Hebrews 13:5).
John 5:11-12 tells us it is Jesus who indwells us: “This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” This “life” is the presence of God within us.
A Psalm of David (Psalm 16:7-11) beautifully reflects the presence of God in the life of one who puts their hope in the Lord. He is filled with joy in the presence of the Lord. Are you?
The Heart of Christmas—The Heart of Life Romans 15:13 Have you ever been so full of junk food that you rejected a good meal, so full of liquid that you couldn’t eat, so full of yourself that you had no friend, so full of want that you couldn’t enjoy the simple and best pleasures of life? If you are full of greed then you cannot be filled with God’s presence and the hope that accompanies it. “Stuff” does not last, nor does anyone wish they had more of it on their death bed. The Heart of Christmas and the heart of living are found only in the presence of God with us.
…set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1b-4
If you are full of “stuff” (or the constant driving desire for it) then don’t be like the rich young ruler who left Christ in search of more. There is nothing more to be had than the presence of God in your life and the Hope of His salvation for your eternity. Pray for forgiveness and allow God to transform your life as you allow Him to transform your heart and mind. Joy and peace is on the way for those who trust in the Lord.