12-25-13 Christmas Eve Sermons
1) 5:00 P.M. Children’s Service- “God with Skin On” (Musical Theme “Some People See Him”-written and directed by Dr. Janet Roberts)
VIDEO OF MOST OF THIS SERVICE WITH HOMILY (CLICK HERE)
12-24-13 ?Some People See Him- God with Skin On? John 1:14; Revelation 4:2,3 by Dr. J. Ben Sloan
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.? (John 1:14)
How do you see God?? Maybe you remember the story of the little girl who was scared and wanted her mommy to come and stay in her bed with her.? Her mommy said I?m in the house- and I can hear you.? I love you and won?t let anything get you.? The little girl said, ?But I?M STILL SCARED!?? The mommy then said, ?Well you know, Jesus is right here with you.? You believe that don?t you??? She said, ?Yes, Mommy, I believe, I just want someone here who has skin on!?
The Good News of Christmas is that God came with skin on.? He is not some idea, some philosophy, some distant Creator, or some amorphous spirit who lives in us.? Jesus shows us that God is real.? If you want to know what God is like- look at Jesus- the God made flesh- the Word made flesh- God with skin on.
It is interesting that people when they close their eyes see Jesus in different ways.? The Bible says, ?Now we see God in a mirror dimly- but then we will see Him face to face.? Now we know Him in part but then we will know Him fully.?? One day we will see Jesus.? Interestingly the Bible portrays the throne of God with many different colors- rainbows of brilliant beauty coming from His presence.? The colors and hues are not nearly important there as they are here.? God goes beyond melatonin- beyond skin- yet God took on skin at Christmas- and became a little child.? We need that child-like innocence, that child-like hope, that child-like forgiveness.? We need the Prince of peace who came as a child.
God put skin on- he also put pain on- He also put death on- when He put skin on.? But He showed us He is more than that when He rose from the dead.
2) 7:00 P.M. “The Supernatural Means God Loves Us”
VIDEO OF THIS SERVICE (CLICK HERE)
?The Supernatural Means there is love? John 3:16; 1 John 4:10-12, 16-18? 12/24/13
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but everlasting life.”
7?Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8?He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9?In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10?In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11?Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12?No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. (1 John 4)
Christmas is not only (as Og Mandino put it) ?The Greatest story ever told? it is ?The greatest love story ever told.?? It is the story of Good Shepherd coming down to rescue the sheep out of love.? It is the story of the Vineyard owner sending His son to tend the vineyard.? It is the story of the King paying our ransom with His own Son?s life.? It is the love of God that will not just leave us in our own deserved silence, apathy and hate.
The very best part of Christmas is the love.? Not just the love of food or even the love of family.? For Christians it is about the love of God.? All other good loves in life emanate from the God who is love.? The wonder is that God did not leave us silent and alone.? He could have said we deserve our sins-
I. LOVE INSTEAD OF INDIFFERENCE- God did not just come near- like a near collision of a meteor with the earth. God came to us.? Becoming like us.? He did not just come, He showed he cared about our lives- not leaving us alone- but healing the sick, raising the dead, comforting the broken hearts, forgiving sins.? Giving Himself for us on the cross.? If God is going overboard for us, will we yawn toward his presence?? Will we say It all really doesn?t matter?
The people of Bethlehem were indifferent to a woman who needed a place to stay.? No doubt Joseph had cousins and relatives there but they did not help their relative have a place to have her baby.? They probably said, ?I have my room and I was here first.?? No one had sympathy for a pregnant relative.? The people of Jerusalem were troubled at the words of the wise men that a king had been born but no one was motivated to get up and go to Bethlehem.? Only the shepherds responded in wonder and love.
This Christmas do not think about what you can get but what you can give- to your family, to your neighbors, to your God.
II. LOVE INSTEAD OF SILENCE- John tells us that the Word was God and the Word became flesh. Jesus- the Word of God- breaks through our silence toward the universe.? God speaks a Word to us.? God tries to reveal Himself to us- because He loves us. God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them.
In Jesus day, he came to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and the religious leaders wanted him silenced.? But Jesus said, if they remain silent the rocks and trees will shout.? Herod certainly wanted to silence the love of God.
There are people in our country who would silence Christians for disagreeing with their morals, and silence us from saying prayers out loud lest they offend them, and silence the name of God from all we hold dear.? They would rather be left alone.? Christmas means God does not leave us alone- without a prayer, without hope beyond the grave, without meaning and purpose in life.
The world would have us to be quiet.? But you know spreading the word started early.? The shepherds spoke about seeing the baby to everyone (Lk. 2).? I am sure that Herod was not excited about the shepherds and the wise men spreading this news.? But they couldn?t help speaking of their joy and hope. Love shows itself by messing with others- even when they do not want it.? Jesus messed with us- by coming down to us- even though He knew that He came to be rejected and die.
III. LOVE INSTEAD OF HATE
Christmas means God does not hate us and we do not need to hate.? There is enough hate in the world.? Christians do not need to be surprised if the world hates us- after all it hated Jesus.? But Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek- that only happens when people are against us.? Jesus told us to love our enemies.? That only happens when we have enemies.
He came to that which was his own but men loved darkness rather than light. I still am surprised when people make bad choices- but I shouldn?t be.? I am surprised when we choose lust over love, lies over truth, things over God.? But the task of the church is not to act outraged but to be lights- to be little bits of love in the universe.
Today our brothers and sisters from other countries are being persecuted.? Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Palestine, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan are the top religious persecutors and they are persecuting- Christians.? Last year on Christmas Eve one of the largest Christian churches in Egypt was bombed as they were coming out of worship.? In Bethlehem, the little town that in 1900 was 90% Christian is now 10% Christian. ?The temptation is to flee away to keep everyone safe.? I think if I was God I would want to flee away from us.? I would be thinking if I were God: If I came to people maybe they would kill me.? I am grateful that God chose love and did not leave us alone.? What the world needs now- the old song says- is love sweet love.? People need love- and us to come to them and show it.? That is what Jesus did in Christmas- the incarnation.? He said, love is better than hate, goodness better than evil.? The holy came to the unholy, Love came at Christmas to elicit love from us.? So this Christmas choose love instead of indifference, silence, or hate.
3) 11:00 P.M. “The High Priest at the First Christmas”
TO VIEW VIDEO OF THIS SERVICE CLICK HERE
?A Priest at the First Christmas?? 12-24-13? 11:00 P.M. LMPC by Dr. J . Ben Sloan
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness.? (Hebrews 4:15)
My name is Joazar Ben Boesthus.? I was the high priest in Jerusalem at the end of Herod the Great?s rule.? I was the religious leader for my people.? But since the Romans took over, I was also the lead political representative of my people.? I was head of the council of the Sanhedrin. ?But since Pompeii came and killed so many priests, the Romans appoint the high priest. This keeps people from fully trusting me-? but they still listen to the office of high priest.
I had a reputation of being too Roman friendly- but only because if you are not they will remove you and then you will have no voice at all.? ?????Since the Romans came there were so many rumors of a Messiah coming to save us.? The Romans were threatening to wipe us all out If we rebelled against them.? I was a Saduccee.? I did not believe in miracles, angels, or in Messiahs, or in anything but the Law of God.? I believe all the talk of prophecies, miracles, and such were keeping us back and keeping us from progressing as a society.? The basic thing is the Law, and anything beyond that gets messy and sometimes delusional.
There were several rebellions against the Romans even when I was high priest.? Theudas led a rebellion. Judas the Galilean led a rebellion of about 400 men (cf. Acts 5:36ff).? An Egyptian rallied about 4,000 to him when he died (Acts 21:38).? They were saying things like God alone should reign over them.? The Romans had appointed me high priest, and I was not about to let such crazy ideas destroy order or destroy our country.
We had heard rumors of a Messiah being born.? Some of the shepherds who kept the sheep for the Passover came to us and told us that they had heard angels.? These angels, they said, told them of a baby being born in a stable.? Now why would the Messiah be born in a stable when he could be born in a palace? Or in the Temple?? These shepherds were nasty uneducated people.? They could not cleanse themselves to take part in the festivals or the sacrifices.? They seemed superstitious and caught up in delusion to me.? Still they were useful to us- keeping the sheep for the Passover.? So I didn?t try to ruffle their feathers, I only pretended to listen.? What bothers me are more rumors and more unrest.
A few months later we had some interesting guests.? Wise Men came from the east saying they were following a star that pointed to the birth of the Messiah.? Of course we had seen the star.? It was in the Andromeda galaxy.? It was bright. But who puts stock in such things?? We are not astrologers!? We don?t believe in horoscopes.
Of course, that superstitious and jealous Herod wanted to know what was going on so he called us in.? He asked us to tell him according to the prophets where the Messiah was to be born.? Now I did not believe the Prophets- for I am a Sadducee who believes only in the pure Law.? But that didn?t mean I didn?t know what the Prophets said.? I consulted with my colleagues and went back to Herod and told him that the prophets said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the City of David- The ancient-and- great King David?s ancestral home. But I told Herod he shouldn?t worry about such things- that it was not going to be true.? Still Herod was worried.? Others were worried too.? But I issued an order that no one would give any credence to what these gentile, unbelieving, untrained people said.? No one was to go to Bethlehem.? We would all stay right where we were to keep the peace with the Romans. Doing that may protect our people from their wrath.? In some ways it calmed the whole troubled city of Jerusalem.? It also calmed Herod down for a little bit.? But when Herod found out the wise men did not come back to him, he was furious and lost his temper.? He issued an order to kill all the babies under Bethlehem under two.? I heard about this, confronted him.? But when I did he said, ?The other option is to kill all the babies in the kingdom under two.?? I thought Bethlehem would be a sacrifice for the rest of us.
You know, Herod was jealous of the Messiah replacing him as king.? But people easily forget that if the Messiah came- as they prophesied, I would be replaced as high priest.? The Messiah was supposed to be a prophet-priest-king figure.? He was to unite the house of Aaron and the house of David.? Later on when Jesus got older, and I was an old man, I inquired about Jesus? lineage.? They said he had escaped Herod?s trap by a miracle.? They said he was of the line of david through both his father and mother but of the priestly line through his mother, and that his uncle was one of the chief priests- Zechariah and father of John the Baptist.? Some of his disciples claimed he was a high priest like Melchizedek who preceded Aaron?s line in importance and time.? Of course, when I found out all that I was old and since my immediate family was no longer high priests I didn?t care as much.? I still wondered though, was he really the Messiah?? Had I betrayed my people by encouraging them not to care about him?? It couldn?t happen.? I don?t believe in miracles or that God intersects this life.? But there is a part of me that wonders? If I missed this event then I missed the greatest event in the history of my people and of my life.
Charge: This Christmas, do not be like a person who believes in God but misses the true meaning of Christmas.