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A Portrait of Self

Christmas Portraits  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Christmas narrative gives rise to some very revealing questions about self.

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TEXT:
ESS: People need to personally answer some questions at Christmas time.
OSS: Lost people will choose to surrender to Christ.
PQ: What does the Christmas narrative reveal about me?
TOPIC: Christmas Portraits: A Portrait of Self
INTRODUCTION:
If the following story were not true, it would surely be unbelievable. It is true, however, as you yourself will agree when you have read it.
There was once a great king. His love for his people knew no limits. Although the kingdom was very large, the king knew every person by name. Everything the people of the kingdom had was a gift freely given by the loving king.
So, to show their love and appreciation to the king for all he had done for them, the people decided to have a great celebration to honor his birthday. Everyone agreed it was a marvelous idea. Preparations for the celebration were very elaborate. No expense was spared by the people. They adorned their homes with lights, decorations, and expensive ornaments. There were parties, dinners, and celebrations throughout the kingdom.
All the people brought gifts for their friends and family. Many of the gifts which the people gave each other were quite expensive, involving considerable indebtedness. In fact, the people spent more on the birthday celebration than they spent at any other time of the year.
Many who were not citizens of the kingdom, and who did not even know the king, joined in the celebration. Their celebration of the king's birth was marked by excessive drinking. Since they did not know the king, they invented a good-natured, fat fellow in a red suit. He laughed a lot, but never said anything. But that didn't matter because they were too busy celebrating to listen anyhow.
The great day of celebrating his birth finally arrived, and some of his people did come bringing gifts and thanking him for his goodness to them. But to his dismay, most of the citizens never came to his house at all on the day of celebration. And the gifts brought to the king by those few who came were very meager when compared with the gifts they had given themselves.
For the most part the people said they had been so busy with all the celebrations and personal plans that they had forgotten about the king. Several said they had thought of him, but really could not work it into their schedules or budgets to come see him or bring a gift. A few were known to be quite put out when it was suggested that going to the king's house or remembering him with a gift was important.
Those people who did come to his house and who brought their loving gifts were welcomed and blessed by the king. But when they had gone and he was alone again, the king fell to thinking of the vast numbers of his people who had forgotten and forsaken him. How could they have forgotten? Had he not loved them all? How could so many of his beloved people who had found the time and money for shopping and feasting and partying and decorating and all sorts of celebrations--how could they possibly be so thoughtless, so ungrateful or selfish? Did they not know that he, too, had feelings? Was not the purpose of the birthday celebration originally planned to honor him?
When the king was alone, pondering these questions, he felt the tears well up in his eyes. And in his loneliness, he wept.
One thought brought some hope and consolation. Even though they had forgotten him, he had not forgotten them.

I. DO YOU HAVE ROOM FOR JESUS IN YOUR LIFE? ().

Luke 2:1–7 NLT
1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
A. Is there room for Jesus in your government? ()
Luke 2:1–3 NLT
1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.
1. Jesus is excluded from government.
a. It is not politically correct to acknowledge Christ at the celebration of his own birthday.
B. Is there room for Jesus in your family? ().
Luke 2:4 NLT
4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.
1. Is Jesus’ birthday emphasized as the reason for the season in your home?
2. What is Jesus’ place in the day-to-day life in your home?
(Note )
Ephesians 6:4 NLT
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
C. Is there room for Jesus in your place of business? ()
Luke 2:5–7 NLT
5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
1. Businesses are increasingly divorcing themselves from any emphasis on Christ at all.
a. Lisa’s experience in Sears. Clerks not allowed to wish anyone “Merry Christmas” unless the customer says it first.
2. What place do you give Jesus on the Job?
a. If any of your coworkers were questioned about your relationship with Christ, what would they have to say?
(Note ).
1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT
31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

II. ARE YOU OPEN TO THE LORD INTERRUPTING YOUR ROUTINE? ().

A. The Lord comes to us in the everyday experiences of life ().
Luke 2:8–9 NLT
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,
1. He does not wait until Sunday to speak.
2. He many times He comes to us in the midst of the daily routine.
B. The Lord desires to shatter fear with joy ().
Luke 2:10 NLT
10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
1. One of the Lord’s favorite things to say is “fear not”.
a. “Fear not” used 63 times in the Bible.
2. Jesus’ desire is for us to experience joy in Him.
a.
John 15:11 NLT
11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
C. The Lord delivers the news that He is at work in our world ().
Luke 2:11–14 NLT
11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
1. God is always at work in this world.
2. The question is, “Will you choose to be a part of what He is doing; or will you stay on the outside?”

III. HOW FAR ARE YOU WILLING TO GO TO EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST? ().

Luke 2:15–16 NLT
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
A. When the Lord interrupts your routine there is a decision to make. ().
Luke 2:15 NLT
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
1. An encounter with the Lord always brings a crisis of belief.
a. A crisis of belief means that you must make a choice about adjustments you must make in order to move on with Him. Two choices are available as illustrated in the text:
(1) The Shepherds worshipped- Recognize Him as Lord
(2) Herod murdered hundreds- Rebel against Him
B. It is good to align yourself with others who have the same desire. ().
Luke 2:15 NLT
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
1. Find others who are following Jesus fully.
a. The company you keep will affect your walk with Jesus.
2. Move together to pursue the presence of Christ.
C. Do not let anything or anyone keep you from experiencing the presence of Christ. ().
Luke 2:16 NLT
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
1. Distance
2. Circumstances
3. People

IV. WILL YOU TELL OTHERS ABOUT THE SAVIOR? ()

Luke 2:17–20 NLT
17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
A. Having an encounter with Jesus is an experience to share ().
Luke 2:17 NLT
17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.
1. The good news of Jesus is meant to be shared, not hidden.
2. How can it be possible to hide the most fantastic news that could ever be told?
B. Others will be affected by what you share about Jesus ().
Luke 2:18 NLT
18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,
1. People will marvel about the good news of Jesus.
2. They will be faced with what they will do with Jesus.
3. Some will get right; some will rebel.
C. Having an encounter with Christ is an experience that continue to affect your life ().
Luke 2:19–20 NLT
19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
1. It will continue to affect your thought life ().
2. It will continue to inspire praise and worship in your life ()
CONCLUSION:
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