07-12-23-24 Imagine Christmas
- Can you imagine that first Christmas. Of course, they did not call it that. For a young, newly married couple it was the end of a very difficult nine months relationally and socially. There were no decorated trees, no lights (except for God’s personally designed special effects), no scented candles, no wrapped packages. Just some farm animals, straw, animal smells – and labor pains leading to an ordinary birth – or not so ordinary as we have seen.
- Christmas is when we see the imaginations of children at their wildest. Perhaps your most cherished memories of Christmas are the ones of your imagination running away to the point that you could not sleep when you were told to go to bed.
- Imagination occupied much of my childhood. It was fed by books and nurtured by large and small; real and imagined adventures. One time a hurricane worked its way up the East Coast and had enough strength to bring pounding rains that left a few inches of water in our back yard. Seeing that, I prepared for a long voyage out of our yard, down to the Atlantic Ocean and off to – who knows where. I went down in my father’s workshop, found some unused fence pickets (I never found out why Dad was saving those) and nailed together a raft. Out into the back yard, I plopped it in the water and it floated! I stepped on it --- and sank ankle deep in water. The end of the voyage.
- I never want to grow out of dreams and imagination and dreams.
I. The Bible talks about hope and dreams.
A. Out of the Christmas story we find dreams beginning
Luke captured it in a few words: But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19 ESV
1. Treasured; pondered
2. Her soul was stirred beyond that of a woman who had just given birth.
3. In her arms she cradled the hope of mankind – God in flesh.
B. Imagine the angels chosen to be a part of this great event planned from before the beginning of people history:
1. “You mean I get to go make the announcement?! I get to tell the news first!!”
a) Peace on earth to men on whom God’s favor rests.
2. “Oh, we are to be in the great angelic army that follows the announcement?!”
a) Glory in the Highest!!
C. And what of those bottom of the heap laborers; those whose job took them out of the loop of daily news – those workers whose career path ended at a sheep corral, the shepherds. There were no neon lights in their lives. No news crews sought them out.
1. God chose those who everyone forgot to hear the news first!
2. For once they brought the news that no one else had – Messiah was here! The Savior had come!
I heard of a children’s Christmas play in which a boy who wanted to be Joseph was only chosen as the innkeeper and he determined that he would change the way the play went…
D. Men, can you put yourself in Joseph’s place? He brought his wife to a stable to have her child. “I feel like a failure, a loser – this is the best I can do?
1. The months of hearing his buddies say, “Yeah, Holy Spirit. Right. Joseph, you need to wake up and smell the Bustelo. You need to look somewhere else. Dump her – the law is on your side. No one will think badly of you.”
2. He doubtless also wondered what he could teach this child. Would he even need to know a trade? I carpentry something that God would do? What if he has questions? What can I possibly teach – God?
E. Women, I know you already identify with Mary! But what uncertainties beyond the normal overwhelming fears of motherhood! How will I care for – God?
II. Years later a crowd listening to a preacher in the wilderness would be astounded to hear the heavens thunder “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
A. The preacher (John) would give up his blossoming ministry to send his disciples to follow Jesus.
B. The guests at a wedding would find that better wine was being served late in the reception and this fellow Jesus seemed to know all about it.
Crowds would sit on a hillside and strain to hear Him speak as no man ever spoke:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled. Matthew 5:3-6 NIV
C. A Crowd would find that five loaves and two fish in the hands of Jesus can feed over 5,000 people!(Luke 9:12-17)
D. His disciples would see Him walking on the water and command the storm to be silent (Matthew 14:22-33; Luke 8:22-25)
E. A man born blind is given his sight. (John 9)
F. A dead man is raised to life.(John 11)
Can you imagine that?
III. Can you imagine that this baby came for more than all that?
A. Can you imagine that this good Man was betrayed by a friend and disciple and taken to trial and condemned to die? (Matthew 27:31-33)
B. Can you imagine that the baby that was crying in the stable would one day cry out from a cross “It is finished?”
IV. Now imagine this: Jesus lived so you could be blessed.
A. Actually you do not have to imagine this – because it is true. Jesus said:
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us… 1 John 3:16 ESV
V. Christmas is about God coming to earth with the express purpose of forgiving your sins and giving you a fresh start.
A. Imagine being free of that addiction that has you in its clutches.
B. Imagine being free from the accusations of those memories that refuse to die.
C. Imagine being freed to love your husband or wife with abandon!
D. Imagine having joy in your heart every day.
E. This word “imagine” actually occurs in your Bible:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20 NIV
God wants you to know His Son, Jesus, whose birthday we are celebrating. He wants you to believe that this baby was the Son of God and that when He gave up His life on the Cross, He did it for you. Trust in Jesus’ death as payment for you sins.
You can do it right now.
You can know inner joy and peace in the eternal life which God gives you starting from the moment you trust in Jesus.