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Celebrate the Miracles of Christmas

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A Christmas Worth Celebrating

Experiencing the Miracles of Christmas

Matthew 1:18-25

1. You can experience the miracle of God’s Plan

     for your life

 

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” Matt 1:18-21 (NIV)

 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jer 33:3 (NKJV)

  2.  You can experience the miracle of God’s Pardon

  in your life

 

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” Matt 1:20-21 (NIV)

“…There is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner repents."

Luke 15:10 (TLB)

  3.  You can experience the miracle of God’s Presence

  in your life

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’-which means, ‘God with us.’” Matt 1:22-23 (NIV)

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Heb 13:5 (NIV)

Dealing with your doubt:

·        Which miracle is missing from your life?

·        Will you trust God for this miracle?


It is hard to believe Christmas Day is almost here!

It is less than 3 weeks away!

How would you describe your observance of Christmas?

I read about two ladies who were shopping at the mall when they happened upon a large nativity scene in one of the department store windows.

In disgust, one turned to the other and said, "Just look at that. Now the church is trying to horn in on Christmas!"

It is hard to believe how some people respond to Christmas.

The pastor of a church in California put a sign in front of his church during the Christmas  season that said, "Jesus is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas."

He received a complaint from a woman in the community who took exception with the message.

She closed the conversation by saying, "I don't think the church should try to drag religion into every holiday."

Christmas ought to be characterized by celebration!

Christmas is worth celebrating!

This morning I’m going to begin a series of messages entitled:

A Christmas Worth Celebrating.

This morning’s message is:

Experiencing the miracles of Christmas.

Christmas is a reminder of God’s miracles.

We see that over and over again in Christmas movies.

In the movie The Preacher’s Wife we find the Reverend Henry Biggs is in need of a miracle.

He doubts his ability to make a difference in a declining community.

And as Christmas approaches he sees little hope as things go from bad to worse.

Watch what happens as Rev. Henry begins to pray…

[Video/The Preacher’s Wife ch. 2]

It is amazing that people sometimes miss God’s intervention in life.

We sometimes fail to realize God’s provision when it comes our way.

God still does miracles…God wants to intervene in your life today.

You see, He wants to use this Christmas to remind us of God’s miracles.

The first Christmas reminds us of some of God’s miracles…miracles that God wants us to experience.

 And I believe that most of us need to be reminded of that today.

You see, you can celebrate this Christmas because God wants to do a miracle in your life.

Christmas reminds us of the miracles of God.

Let me share several of them with you.

I believe God is going to speak to each person today about a specific miracle He wants you to experience.

In Matt 1:18-25 we find some miracles of Christmas…that God wants you to experience and celebrate.

What are they?

1. You can experience the miracle of God’s plan for your life

That is the first miracle I want you to see…the miracle of God’s plan.

That is what we see when we turn to the familiar story in Matt. 1:18-25.

Notice Matt 1:18-21,

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Matt 1:18-21 (NIV)

No doubt you’ve heard the story many times.

When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant…the news floored him.

Why?

Because he was engaged to her…and he knew that he had not been with her…that he couldn’t possibly be the father.

There was only one logical conclusion…Mary had been unfaithful to him.

Though they were not married yet, so sacred was the period of engagement that they were by custom considered as if married.

According to the law Joseph had two options:

1. He could divorce her publicly and shame her in a court of justice, or

2. He could put her away secretly by means of a private divorce.

What would he do?

Verse19 says because he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

 

Do you see Joseph’s dilemma?

His world has just been rocked…the woman he loves and is engaged to, is pregnant and he is not the father.

 

That my friend qualifies as a dilemma.

We all have experienced dilemmas in our lives when we just don’t know what to do…it may be family problems, financial problems, faith problems.

And like Joseph, we are left scratching our head wondering, what am I going to do?

I like the way the Message paraphrase v.20,

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God's angel spoke in the dream: "Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant.

Matthew 1:20 (Msg)

Have you ever been there…trying to figure a way out of your dilemma?

Here is something we can learn from this passage…God replaces our dilemmas with His dreams.

Some of you came this morning trying to figure a way out…you’ve got a dilemma.

Good news…God wants to intervene...but you need to listen for His message.

God used an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream about His miraculous plan.

God wants to speak to you this morning…not through a dream…but through His Word, through other people, through circumstance, and through prayer.

Often times when faced with a dilemma…like Joseph, we only see the solution from a human perspective…and we forget the God factor.

What is the dilemma you are facing today?

As you have been trying to figure a way out of it…what solution did you come up with?

You see, that is our pattern for problem solving.

The Christmas story reminds us there is a better way…God’s way.

We can experience the miracle of God’s plan…if we will listen for his voice and guidance.

But you’ve got to listen carefully or you might get the message mixed up…like the little 5 year old…

…who was showing his little brother around the Christmas display at the church.

“Here are the shepherds,” he explained knowledgeably, “and there are the sheep and the cows and the wise men.”

He continued by saying, “And here is Mary, she Jesus’ mother. And that’s Mary’s husband, Virg.”

A teacher who was nearby, overheard and offered a correction.

“Mary’s husband was named Joseph, dear,” she said, “not Virg.”

The 5 year old wrinkled his brow, “Then how come the preacher always talk about Virg and Mary?”

 

It’s important to get the story straight!

Whose voice are you listening to today when it comes to your future?

Joseph listened to God’s message and followed God’s plan.

What about you?

You can experience the miracle of God’s plan for your life… listening for God’s message and following God’s plan for your life.

In Jeremiah 33:3 God says,

 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Jer 33:3 (NKJV)

God is a God of miracles…and he will show you His plan for your life… where to go and what to do.

Will you call out to Him today…and ask Him to speak to you…and lead you and guide you through your difficulty today?

When you do, you can begin to experience and celebrate the miracle of God’s plan for your life.

There is a second miracle God wants you to experience and celebrate this Christmas season:

2. You can experience the miracle of God’s pardon in your life

We see this very clearly in this passage as we focus in on the angel’s message to Joseph.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Matt 1:20-21 (NIV)

The angel of the Lord made it clear regarding the name of the Son…it would be Jesus.

In the OT and NT times, Parents often intended the names they gave children to have some meaning.

Have you ever wondered why your Mom and Dad named you your particular name?

I often wonder why…why Rick?

I think my mom must have watched the TV show I Love Lucy in the 1950’s and named me after Ricky Ricardo…I don’t know.

Parents come up with some interesting names…don’t they?

One of the most interesting names I’ve heard of was my grandfather’s name…Jayhue Donahue Williams.

Top that one.

I almost did.

Believe it or not…I was going to name the son I never had…Jack Daniel Williams.

Why?

Not because I wanted him to be a whiskey drinker…but because I had an Uncle Jack…and wanted to keep the initials of my grandfather Jayhue Donahue Williams!!??

I think I know why God didn’t give me a son!!

You know, it is one thing for parents to give a child his name…it is another thing for God to give His son a name… it had special significance.

Jesus is the Greek form of “Joshua.”

The name means “the Lord saves.”

The idea behind the name is that of deliverance, of being saved from some terrible disaster that leads to perishing.

God’s message was loud and clear…

His son…the baby Jesus would be born to save his people from their sins.

From the very start, the gospel of Matthew explains to its Jewish audience that Jesus would not save the people from Rome or from tyranny, nor would He set up an earthly kingdom.

Instead, Jesus would save people from sin.

Have you ever heard of some bizarre miracles that supposedly happen with some of these faith healers…legs growing etc.

One of the greatest miracles of all…is not growing a new leg or arm…but the forgiveness of sin…God pardoning a sinner and making them a new creation!

I know because I’ve experienced the miracle of God’s forgiveness.

(My testimony…)

Have you experienced one of the greatest miracles of all…God’s forgiveness?

If not…why not?

(Share gospel)

The Bible says in Lk. 15:10,

 “…There is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner repents."

Luke 15:10 (TLB)

Whenever one person receives Christ…there is a celebration in heaven…the angels rejoice.

So should we!


There is a third miracle God wants you to experience and celebrate this Christmas season:

3. You can experience the miracle of God’s presence in your life

Notice v. 22-23

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’-which means, ‘God with us.’”

Matt 1:22-23 (NIV)

Jesus came not only to die for us and deliver us…He came to dwell within us.

The prophet Isaiah some 700 years before Christ’s birth predicted His birth in Isa 7:14.

Here we are reminded of the fulfillment of that prophecy.

What is especially significant is the name Immanuel…which means God with us.

 

The name was used more as a title or description rather than a proper name.

Think about this: in the OT God dwelt among His people in the tabernacle and in the temple.

In the NT times God dwelt among His people in the person of Jesus Christ as He walked on this earth.

Today, through the Spirit of God, Christ is present in the life of every believer!

My friend that is a miracle!!

At Christmas time, a family was driving around looking at manger scenes erected by various churches in their town.

When they drove by the manger scene at one church, the curious little one wanted to know who the figures represented.

Dad pointed out Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

They drove on and came to another church that had a nativity scene set up and the same inquisitive one, upon seeing the three figures with crowns on their heads, wanted to know who they were.

Mom did the duties this time explaining that the figures were the three wise men looking for the baby Jesus.

“Well they won’t find Him there,” the child said…”He’s down at the other church!”

The love of God that came down at Christmastime is not confined to one church, tradition, race, or doctrine.

One of the great miracles of Christmas is that of God’s presence.

God in Jesus Christ is with you.

He is with you everywhere all the time.

He never takes a vacation or a long weekend.

The message of Christmas is God coming boldly into your life and staying there as your everyday companion.

Wherever you walk God walks beside you.

Whatever you pass through, God passes through it with you.

Oftentimes Christmas brings out a variety of emotions including sadness and loneliness.

If that is where you are today…let me encourage you to experience the miracle of God’s presence in your life

Claim the Promise of His presence…

In Josh 1:9 God says,

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Josh 1:9 (NIV)

Jesus says in Matt 28:20,

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Matt 28:20 (NIV)

In Heb 13:5 God says,

"Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you."  

Heb 13:5 (NIV)

You can experience the miracle of God’s presence in your life!!!

 

God wants you to experience and celebrate the miracles of Christmas:

·    The miracle of His plan for your life

·    The miracle of His pardon in your life; and

·    The miracle of His pardon in your life

The enemy of experiencing these miracles is doubt.

Let me encourage you to deal with your doubt…just like Joseph did.

Matt 1:24-25 says,

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

Matt 1:24-25 (NIV)

Some of you need to wake up today…and obey the Lord.

You need to experience God’s miraculous touch today

Dealing with your doubt:

·    Which miracle is missing from your life?

·    Will you trust God for this miracle?

Author and speaker Tony Campolo tells this story:

I was in a church in Oregon not too long ago, and I prayed for a man who had cancer.

In the middle of the week, I got a telephone call from his wife.

She said, "You prayed for my husband. He had cancer."

I said, "Had?" Whoa, I thought, it's happened.

She said, "He died." I felt terrible.

She continued, "Don't feel bad. When he came into that church last Sunday he was filled with anger.

He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God.

 

He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up.

 

He was angry that this all-powerful God didn't take away his sickness and heal him.

 

He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger towards God grew, the more miserable he was to everybody around him.

 

It was an awful thing to be in his presence.

 

After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him.

 

Tony, the last three days have been the best days of our lives.

 

We've sung. We've laughed. We've read Scripture. We prayed. Oh, they've been wonderful days.

 

And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing."

And then she said something incredibly profound. She said, "He wasn't cured, but he was healed."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas...The pastor of a church in a small town was ordering a sign for their outdoor manger scene. The company needed to know the dimensions and verbiage of the sign, but the pastor wasn't sure. Since time was of the essence, the company suggested that the pastor send the information to them by way of messenger as soon as he could. The next day a Western Union employee was shocked to see this message come across the wire: "For unto us a child is born. 8 feet long, 3 feet wide."

Newsweek magazine released a report on miracles during April of 2000. The results showed 84 percent of Americans believe God performs miracles. Forty-eight percent have experienced a miracle in their own life, and 63 percent said they know people who have been part of a miracle.

Houston Chronicle, April, 23, 2000, p. 24A

During a long-range planning meeting one woman came up with a great idea. One of the male committee members joked, "It's a miracle that a woman would have such a great idea." Another woman shot back, "The miracle is that a man would recognize such a great idea."

* Plains Crusader, Date Unknown

Percentage of Americans who believe in divine miracles: 84

Percentage who believe in the reality of miracles described in the Bible: 79

Percentage who have personal experiences with miracles: 48

Percentage who know of people who have: 63

Percentage who have prayed for a miracle: 67

Percentage who believe God or the saints cure or heal sick people who have been given no chance of survival by medical doctors: 77

à       Citation: Eric Reed; source: "Newsweek Poll: Most Americans Believe in Miracles," Newsweek (May 1, 2000)

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