This poem was the basis of our Christmas Morning Service this year. Introduction On a night long ago, in a place far away A baby…
Does it matter what you believe? Does what you believe actually impact your life?
If you find an unmarked bottle of liquid in your cupboard – there are many possibilities of what it could be. It could be water. It could be bleach. It could be vinegar. They all look pretty much the same. You could believe that it could be any of those.
But does it matter what you believe? Will your belief about the contents of that container effect how you choose to use it? And will those choices, based on those beliefs, impact the course of your life? It certainly could!
“If you drink bleach, it oxidizes or burns tissues in your mouth, esophagus, and stomach. According to the National Institutes of Health, it can cause nausea, chest pain, lowered blood pressure, delirium, coma, and potentially death.” ~ somewhere on the internet…
Does it matter what you believe?
Of course it does! And all day every day, we make choices based on our beliefs.
If we believe that it’s going to be -40º outside today, you’re going to wear a warm coat and mitts and boots and all that stuff. If you believe that it’s going to be +40º today, you’re going to wear shorts and a t-shirt.
We are continually making choices based on our beliefs – and those choices, based on our beliefs are setting the course for our lives.
So what happens if your beliefs are wrong? What happens if you believe that you have a bottle of water – and it turns out that it’s a bottle of bleach? What happens if you believe that it’s going to be +40º but it turns out to be -40º?
It’s a serious problem to have incorrect beliefs. The course of your life can take a serious turn for the worse in a quick hurry!
I think it’s pretty obvious how important it is to have true beliefs.
And if it’s that important to know the truth about the weather or the truth about the contents of this container – how much more important is it that we have true beliefs about God?
Over the last three weeks we’ve been looking at background of the Christmas story. And we’ve discovered that this history of hope goes all the way back to the beginning of time when God created the heavens and the earth.
You see, God had set up the perfect system for the perfect life – He would be the source of everything mankind would ever need. He would give them life, food, meaningful relationships, purpose in their work – everything they needed, He would provide. But He would also be their authority. Of course, He certainly gave them responsibilities and authority as well, but He was to be the ultimate authority. That was God’s setup for the perfect life. As long as mankind looked to God as their source and as their authority, life would be amazing.
And it worked great! With this setup, Adam & Eve enjoyed life to the fullest as God intended it – and it was sweet. They had everything they wanted. Their relationship with God and with each was perfect and beautiful – Never any conflict or never any strife – it was what you might describe as heaven.
But something happened. Sin happened. Adam & Eve rejected God as their source and as their authority and they took that role for themselves and as a result – everything fell apart. Their relationships with God and with each other was broken. The sweetness of life became bitterness and life on earth has been a struggle ever since.
But God had a plan. God knew this would happen even before He created the world, so all along, He had a plan. And this is what we’ve been looking at for the past three weeks – God’s plan to put things back to the way they were when He first created them.
And in case you missed those first three Sundays, let me give you just a quick summary.
On week one, we learned how God promised Adam & Eve that one day, one of Eve’s descendants would crush Satan’s head and defeat sin for all time.
On week two, we learned how God promised Abraham that one day, one of his descendants would be a blessing to every family on earth.
On week three, we learned that God promised King David that one day, one of his descendants would be King for all time.
And as we looked at some of the old testament prophecies and as we looked at the Christmas story as recorded in Luke, we came to realize that all these promises were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ. He was the one that God had been promising for some 4000 years.
And that’s what makes Christmas such a big deal – its because finally, after years of hoping and waiting for God to fulfill his promises, finally, God’s own Son, Jesus Christ was born as a man and He would make things right again.
But here’s the problem. If you look around at the world today – it doesn’t really seem like everything right again – does it? There’s still pain. There’s still suffering. Satan seems as active as ever. Sin is still around in bountiful supply. Our relationships with God and with each are far from perfect. So… what happened? Was it all a joke? Did God’s plan fail? Or is it just that the story isn’t over yet? Well, that’s what we’re going to look at today.
We are now in December. We’ve got snow on the ground, people have their Christmas lights up, there’s eggnog in the grocery stores, so it must be time for some Christmas related sermons.
Quite often I shy away from a lot of seasonal messages – just because we hear the same things year after year after year. But this Christmas, I want to take the whole month of December to tell you the Christmas story – the whole Christmas story. I think sometimes we get gypped and we only hear part of the story. We hear about the angels, about the shepherds, about having no room at the inn, about the wisemen, but we miss out on all the stuff that happens before that.
So I want to start us off today, not with the wisemen, not with the shepherds, not with Mary & Joseph – not even with the prophets that foretold the birth of Jesus. Instead, I want us to start in the beginning. Literally. In the beginning – Genesis 1:1
That’s truly the beginning of the Christmas story. Because really, the entire Bible is the Christmas story. Everything that happens in the Old Testament is a lead up to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything that happens in the New Testament is the result of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So this December I want us to take a look at the big picture. I want us to try to see what God was doing right from day one. You see, Jesus’ birth didn’t just happen. In fact, all of history didn’t just happen. God wasn’t just making stuff up as He went along. Before He even created the world, God had a plan. And that plan involved all the stuff that we read about in the Bible – everything from Adam & Eve in Genesis all the way to the end of time in Revelation. God had and still has a plan.
You may have heard the saying that history is HIS STORY. That’s absolutely true – History is God’s story. And believe it or not, you and I are a part of that story.
So over the next few weeks as we try to look at the Bible as one big Christmas story, hopefully we’ll be able to see where we fit into the picture. Hopefully we’ll be able to see how the whole Bible – how all of history – is a History of Hope – a grand story that each one of us is very much a part of.
I don’t know if you’re as excited about this as I am, but I trust that by the end of December, you will be.
Our story begins as I said before, In the beginning.
Begin by reading through Genesis Chapter 3 Hand out a printout of chapter 4 to each person. (You can find one here.) Have each person…