Christmas A life changed by the Child of Bethlehem
A life changed by the Child of Bethlehem
Call to worship
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6)
Adoration, Invocation and the Lord’s Prayer
Sovereign Lord, we are conscious of the fact that, in approaching you, we come before a king, the one who is in fact King of kings and Lord of lords. As King, You are seated upon your royal throne in Heaven, arrayed in majesty and splendour. From your throne, You rule over all that You have made. You rule with unerring wisdom, infinite compassion and thorough justice. You possess all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, let all that You have made worship you. Let every knee bow before You and every tongue confess you as Lord.
Mindful of the glory and honour which is due to You, we, your redeemed people, may yet approach your throne with boldness, because You are seated upon a throne of grace. You have extended your hand of mercy to us. You delight in each one of your blood-bought children and You promise grace sufficient to help us in our time of need. We rejoice in being reconciled to You by the cross and we rejoice to plead none other than the name of Jesus before your holy throne.
Almighty God, we come into your presence, to sit at your feet, to gaze upon your beauty, to receive your loving instruction, to heed your gentle rebukes, to receive your wise correction, to be trained by You in righteousness.
We give you thanks to You who are the only almighty, ever-living God of truth, eternal Father of our Lord Jesus, creator of heaven and earth, of people and of all creatures, sustainer of all things, source of all life, order and wisdom, unfailing source of help: and to your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, your Word and eternal image: and to your Holy Spirit, with whom you endowed the church at Pentecost. We give thanks to you, O God who are the fountain of grace and truth, wisdom and goodness, justice and mercy, purity and loving kindness, for with wisdom unmatched you revealed yourself to us, sending your Son into the world, who was destined to assume human nature and to become a sacrifice for us.
We give thanks to you, O God, for gathering your eternal church, for guarding the ministry of your Word, for granting your Holy Spirit and for giving everlasting life. We thank you, O God, because you gave us all things, because you alleviated and removed the punishment we justly deserve, because you pour out upon us all the blessings of soul and body.
Almighty and most merciful Father, You have given your Son Jesus Christ to be the light of the world. We pray that You will enlighten our hearts that in our worship and in the way we live and serve You, we may worthily magnify your glorious Name and also be the means of bringing the light of life to all who are in darkness. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age. (Galatians 1:3-4)
Hymn No 124: “Jesus the everlasting Word”
Hymn No 154: “Jesus, your boundless love to me”
Scripture Reading Hosea 4:1-9
Offering and Dedication
Remaining seated, all sing:
Hymn No 148: “You servants of God”
Prayer for others
Scripture Reading Colossians 1:3-14
Sermon “A life changed by the Child of Bethlehem”
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Millions of people attended Christmas worship services yesterday right across the world. One can only wonder how many attend the services today. And one would probably more amazed by the small number whose life is changing, or has changed, because of what they learned or understood about the reason why Christ came into the world.
Many cannot get beyond the manger and the lowing cattle. A great multitude love the carols, while others only enjoy the Christmas pudding after the service with relatives and friends.
But that is not how we continue on from the manger, the Baby in the crib, star, the wise men and Bethlehem of 2000 years ago. There we meet Him who had been promised by the prophets, but from there we follow Him to become his disciples.
Yesterday in this church we heard the glorious message of how God loves his Won, but also about His love for the world, and how his Son reconciled sinner to God, and how He made them fit for heaven, redeeming them, forgiving their sins, giving them a membership in God’s heaven. Now that is a magnificent message of hope. The question now is, “What between this message and the return of Christ?” Can, or may, we end the Christmas story in Bethlehem? No, thousand times “no”. Let’s see what happened to people who heard this message, and what changes they had to make in the lives because of the message of Christmas.
Is more needed?
We meet the church in Colosse as people with an above average spiritual standard.
The report from Epaphras convinced Paul that these believers truly knew Christ and were born again. But there was much more to learn from Him and about Him! “You do not need a new spiritual experience,” Paul was saying. “You only need to grow in the experience you have already had.”
When a person is born into God’s family by faith in Jesus Christ, he is born with all that he needs for growth and maturity. This is the theme of Colossians: “And you are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10). No other experience is needed than the new birth. “Do not look for something new,” Paul warned the church. “Continue to grow in that which you received at the beginning” (author’s paraphrase).
Spiritual intelligence is the beginning of a successful, fruitful Christian life. God puts no premium on ignorance. I once heard a preacher say, “I didn’t never go to school. I’m just a ignorant Christian, and I’m glad I is!” A man does not have to go to school to gain spiritual intelligence; but neither should he magnify his “ignorance.”
Great men of God like Charles Spurgeon, G. Campbell Morgan, and H.A. Ironside never had the privilege of formal Bible training. But they were devoted students of the Word, learning its deeper truths through hours of study, meditation, and prayer. The first step toward fullness of life is spiritual intelligence—growing in the will of God by knowing the Word of God.
Wisdom and conduct should always be related to moral character. One of the great problems in our evangelical world today is the emphasis on “spiritual knowledge” and “Christian service,” without connecting these important matters to personal character.
For example, some teachers and preachers claim to have God’s wisdom—yet they lack love and kindness and the other basic qualities that make the Christian life beautiful and distinctive. Even some “soul-winning Christians” are so busy serving God that they cannot take time to check facts—so they publish lies about other Christians. For some months, I read a certain religious publication. But when I discovered that they had no “Letters to the Editor” column (except for praise), and that they never published a correction or apologized for an error, I stopped reading the magazine.
“It is always too soon to quit.”
I have often thought of that statement when I find myself in the midst of trying circumstances. It is not talent or training that guarantees victory: it is perseverance. “By perseverance the snail reached the ark,” said Charles Spurgeon.
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:12)
…rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:7)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)
Prayer of Confession of sins
Lord Jesus Christ, you have called us to come to You with the promise that all who come will not be turned away. We come to You, just as we are, in our need.
We confess to You our sins and failures: our many wilful departures from your good and just laws; our thankless ingratitude for all your tender mercies; our rebellious disobedience and transgression of your righteous commandments; our proud and defiant pursuit of our own way; our constant failures and shortcomings in your sight; our fatal attraction to sin; our inbuilt bias away from what is right and toward what is wrong.
We cast ourselves upon You and plead your mercy and cleansing. Treat us not according to what our sins deserve but, according to your great mercy, blot them out, cover them over, wash them away, remove them from us as far as the east is from the west, cast them into the depths of the sea, remember them no more.
We own our sin and acknowledge our guilt. Our only plea is that You have died for sinners such as us. You have poured out your blood to make atonement for our sin. You have offered up your life as a guilt offering. You have died that death which is the wages of sin. We make our appeal to You for mercy. We make application to You for forgiveness. We pray that you will cleanse us deep within. Send your Holy Spirit to break our bad habits, to take away our desire to sin, to purify our hearts and to make us holy. Enable us to serve You and to please you in newness of life. Strengthen us to walk in the light as You are in the light. Grant that we may have fellowship with one another and experience your blood continually cleansing us from all sin, in your precious name we pray. Amen.
Declaration of pardoning
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)
Hymn No 270: “Gracious Spirit dwell in me”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
Hymn: “We will give thanks to Thee”