Advent Conspiracy 2009 post-series message
Christmas All Year Round
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
December 27, 2009



You know, it’s amazing to me how quickly Christmas snuck up on us this year, and now it’s over. Oh, I’m sure there are a few related festivities in the days ahead. Shera, Nate, Noah and I will be packing up and heading to Fredericton tomorrow, and I’m sure there will be more gifts and more food to occupy us there. But for the most part, Christmas 2009 is behind us.

We spent a lot of time over the past month talking about what I believe are some very important issues. We talked about how the Christmas season really began as a time to worship Jesus. And so, instead of pushing Him to the sidelines and just remembering Him at official Church services, we talked about learning to worship Him fully by keeping Him at the forefront of our celebrations.

And to enable us to worship fully, we recognized that we would need to learn to spend less, give more, and love all. And so we talked about shifting from an attitude of consumerism to one of compassion. Instead of being pulled into the vortex of holiday spending, we talked about pulling back on overspending, and instead of buying a bunch of meaningless gifts create meaningful memories. And coupled along with that, we encouraged everyone to find a way to give to those in need.

Here at Sunrise, we emphasized the worldwide problem of a lack of clean water. That was the need we decided to focus on. And so we received an offering to go toward providing access to a source of clean water for people in Sierra Leone.

Actually, there was a video I wanted to show you on Christmas Eve that I wasn’t able to get working. I’ve got it working now, so take a look…

VIDEO – Living Waters – disease…

So that’s the kind of difference we can make by providing clean water to people don’t have it already. That’s what we received the offering for, and you responded to the tune of ________. Good job! I haven’t sent that in yet, so if you’d like to add to that amount you can do so this morning. Just use one of the “My Christmas Offering” envelopes available at the Offering Box.


But as we’ve talked about all these principles this Advent season… Worshipping fully, spending less, giving more, loving all… replacing consumerism with compassion… it occurs to me that they are not just for Advent. These are principles we can and should be living by year round.

So just very quickly this morning, I want to touch on each of them one more time.


To Celebrate Advent All Year Round, I Need To:

1.    Worship Jesus fully every day of the year

We’ve talked about how Christmas was about worshipping that Baby in the manger. But that Baby grew up… He gave His life for you and for me… He rose from the dead… He proved that He is God and that He deserves our worship not just at Christmas time but everyday of the year. Read this verse aloud with me…

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)
…You must worship Christ as Lord of your life.

What does it mean to worship Him? It means that you put Him first in your life. It means you live the way He wants you to live. It means that you allow Him free reign in your life. It means that you honour Him in every way… in every word, thought and deed. Worship Him fully every day.


2.    Spend less and manage what God has entrusted to me wisely

You know what they say is the leading cause of divorce, don’t you? Money. Arguments over money. Problems with money… usually because money has been managed poorly and the couple has found themselves buried in debt.

Well, the Bible has a lot to say about how we spend our money. There are a lot of financial principles contained in the pages of this book. Jesus said more about money than just about any other topic. There’s a lot of wisdom in here about how to manage your money.

Now, there’s no guarantee in there that you’ll become rich. Jesus Himself was poor. Many of His followers were poor. But, if you pay attention to what the Bible says about managing your money, then chances are you’ll be better off. You know that old axiom, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? What does that mean? Does it mean that if you eat an apple a day you’ll never ever have to see a doctor? No, of course not. It’s not a guarantee; it’s a principle. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have to see a doctor, but chances are you’ll be better off than people who don’t.

Well, the financial principles in the Bible are like that. They don’t guarantee that you’ll become rich or that you’ll never ever have money problems, but chances are you’ll be better off than people who don’t follow those principles.

We’ve talked about some of them before, and we’ll talk about them again. But here are just a few of my favourites to whet your appetite…

Luke 12:15 (NLT)
“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Ecclesiastes 5:13 (NLT)
Hoarding riches harms the saver.

Proverbs 13:11 (NLT)
Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.

Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV)
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Those are the kinds of financial principles that should be followed not just at Christmas time but all year round.

Now, I brought a gift for you today. It’s a book called The Treasure Principle. And I actually debated with myself about bringing these here this morning. (And I won.) Most of you know how cautious I am about talking about money here on Sunday mornings, because it can be such a sensitive issue and because churches have that bad rap of always being after your money. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but that’s the reputation churches have with some people. So I almost didn’t bring these books in this morning.

But this is a book that talks about some of the Biblical principles about how to manage your money. I read it a few months back, and it’s pretty good. So I brought enough for every family to have a copy.

If you happen to be someone who’s offended when churches talk about money, then I have a solution. Just don’t take a book. But if you’d like a book, be sure to pick up your copy when we’re done.


3.    Give more compassionately to the poor
 
Why? Because when I do so, I am partnering with Jesus.

Proverbs 19:17 (NLT)
If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and he will repay you!

That’s a pretty good deal, isn’t it? By giving to the poor, you are partnering with what Jesus wants to do to help the poor, and He’ll make sure you get a return on your investment. That’s basically what Jesus said in Luke 12…

Luke 12:33 (NLT)
“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.”

We tend to get so wrapped up in our own problems that we forget that there are others who are a lot worse off than we are. So don’t just keep your compassion bottled up for Christmastime… give more compassionately to the poor all year round. Give of your time, give of your money, give of your talents. You can give to needs around the world, and you can give to needs right here in our city.


4.    Love all with the love of God

We already recognized this morning how much Jesus loves each and every person. He gave His life for them.

1 John 4:10-12 (NLT)
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

Loving each other. This is what we’re going to be talking about starting next month. On January 10th, we’re going to begin a series called “40 Days of Love”, and I hope you’ll all be able to be part of that series. And next Sunday, we do kind of a preview of the series. So be here for that.


Well, we want to take those principles and apply them all year round.

1.    Worship Jesus fully every day of the year
2.    Spend less to be a wise manager of what God has entrusted to me
3.    Give more compassionately to the poor
4.    Love all with the love of God

What we’re not going to take with us year round is the music. We’re about to pack that up until next November 28. So I’m going to pray, and then we’re going to sing a few more Christmas songs before we pack them up.



 

 

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