What Does Christmas Mean?

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV)

The fact that God made the announcement to shepherds helps us to understand the real meaning of Christmas.

John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life,” and He chose to announce that to shepherds first of all.

You must understand that shepherds were at the opposite end of the social stratum from King Herod and all the influential people of the day. Think about it. Shepherds lived in the fields with their animals. They were not respected, they had no power or prestige.  Yet, God’s angel came to them and said, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).  Unto shepherds a Savior was born.

In that one simple announcement God made known some very important truths that will help us discover the meaning of Christmas.

So, what does Christmas really mean? It means three things:

1. That God KNOWS YOU and you are IMPORTANT to Him!

2. That YOUR LIFE MATTERS because GOD LOVES YOU!

3. That YOUR FAITH MATTERS because without it, you cannot PLEASE GOD! Continue reading

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Worship – My Primary Purpose In Life

Revelation 4:11b (NLT) “You (God) created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created.”

Matthew 22:36-39 (HCSB) Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?  He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Below is a brief sermon outline on the subject of worship. Enjoy!

1. WORSHIP IS MY RESPONSE TO GOD’S LOVE

Romans 12:1 (HCSB) Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.

2. WORSHIP IS GIVING BACK TO GOD.

Mark 12:30 (HCSB) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

3. WORSHIP IS FOCUSING MY ATTENTION ON GOD.

Psalm 139:1-3 (HCSB) LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. 3 You observe my travels and my rest: You are aware of all my ways.

4. WORSHIP IS EXPRESSING MY AFFECTION TO GOD.

I John 4:19 (HCSB) We love because He first loved us.

Hosea 6:6 (NLT)  God says, I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices.  I want you to know Me more than I want burnt offerings.

5. WORSHIP IS USING MY ABILITIES FOR GOD.

Colossians 3:23 (HCSB) Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.

Romans 12:1 (The Msg) Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, your eating, your going to work, your walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.

Jesus Was First To Say, “Follow Me.”

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Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers . . . . Then He said to them, “Follow Me.” —Matthew 4:18-19

I love to walk the Western North Carolina mountain trails and enjoy its grandeur and picturesque beauty. I’m often reminded that these treks are symbolic of our spiritual journey, for the Christian life is simply walking—with Jesus alongside as our companion and guide. He walked through the land of Israel from one end to the other, gathering disciples, saying to them, “Follow Me” (Matt. 4:19).

The journey is not always easy. Sometimes giving up seems easier than going on, but when things get difficult, we can rest a while and renew our strength. In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan describes the arbor on Hill Difficulty where Christian caught his breath before continuing the climb. His scroll provided comfort, reminding him of the Lord’s continual presence and sustaining power. He got a second wind so he could walk a few more miles.

Only God knows where the path will take us, but we have our Lord’s assurance, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). This is not a metaphor or other figure of speech. He is real company. There is not one hour without His presence, not one mile without His companionship. Knowing He’s with us makes the journey lighter.

When life becomes a heavy load,
An upward climb, a winding road,
In daily tasks, Lord, let me see
That with me You will always be.
—D. De Haan

As you travel life’s weary road, let Jesus lift your heavy load
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Practical Ways to Live a Missional Life

Fact: You are not a mistake!

Fact: The Lord has a purpose and a plan for your life (Jer. 29:11).

Fact: You are to live on mission.

You reply: Ok, but how?  What does a missional life look like?

That’s a great answer!  Allow me to share with you 10 ways you can live a missional life without adding anything to your calendar.

1. Eat with other people

We all eat 3 meals a day. That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission each week without adding anything new to your schedule. Meals are a powerful expression of welcome and community.

2. Work in public places

Hold meetings, prepare talks, read in public spaces like cafes and parks. It will naturally help you engage with the culture as work or plan. For example, whose questions do you want to address in your Bible studies – those of professional exegetes or those of the culture?

3. Be a regular

Adopt a local café, park and shops so you regularly visit and become known as a local. Imagine if everyone in your church community did this!

4. Join in with what’s going on

Churches often start their own thing like a coffee shop or homeless program. Instead, join existing initiatives – you don’t have the burden of running it and you get opportunities with co-workers.

5. Leave the house in the evenings

It’s so easy after a long day on a dark evening to slump in front of the television or surf the internet. Get out! Visit a friend. Take a cake to a neighbor. Attend a local group. Go to the movies. Hang out in a café. Go for a walk with a friend. It doesn’t matter where as long as you go with Gospel intentionality. Continue reading