Based On: Luke 2:13-14
The shepherds were doing what they did every night – watching the sheep. The night was quiet and peaceful as a single angel told them Christ was born in Bethlehem. Suddenly thousands of angels, if not tens of thousands, broke the peace of that night and sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The Christ child came and the angels proclaim that there is now peace. As I look around I don’t see much peace in this world. Where is this peace?
Based on: Revelation 12:1-6
Have you ever witnessed a car accident? Your perspective can make a big difference in how you think about what happened. Imagine that you were just at an intersection and you saw a car coming from your right. It swerved out of its lane and hit a car coming from the other direction. Perhaps you think how foolish it was for the one driver to not pay attention.
But what if you saw the accident from another perspective? What if you were looking down from above and you saw the little boy get away from his mother and run toward the street? You would understand why the driver swerved out of his lane. What if your perspective even included the thoughts of this driver as he recognized that little boy as his own? Your broader perspective helps you better understand the event.
Now let me ask, “With what perspective do you watch the events of Christmas?” Is it from the side, is it from above, or do you know what God thinks about Christmas?
Based on: Philippians 4:4-7
Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is coming – two times when family and friends like to get together. Are there people you look forward to seeing? People who bring a little joy to the gathering? I remember as a kid I looked forward to seeing my Uncle Joe. His gregarious smile and humorous wit added to the joy of the occasion. We looked forward to seeing him. I even remember some of the things he said. For example, as he was leaving sometimes he would say, “I’m glad you got to see me.” He was just teasing us – I think.
Based on: Deuteronomy 8:10-18
For many generations parents have been telling their children, “Now remember to say ‘Thank you’”. I think even Adam and Eve had to tell their children to say thank you. Certainly they taught their children to say thank you to God – the offerings they made in Genesis chapter 4 were intended to be just that, a thank you to God.
Based on: Acts 3:12-20
When you see someone sick or suffering have you ever thought, “If only I could put my hand on that person and say something like ‘In the name of Jesus may this sickness leave you’ and then the person would be whole again. If only God would work a miracle through me!” Have you ever thought something like that? I have.
But it doesn’t work that way, does it. I don’t have that gift. I don’t think any of you have that gift. If you are disappointed because of that, if you think you are missing out, then let me remind you that you have been given a much greater gift. God has given you the privilege and even the command to perform a far greater miracle. Through us God performs the miracle of faith. He has given us the means to do it.
Based on: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Have you ever visited any of the famous grave sites of the world? The Taj Mahal is the resting place of a Muslim ruler and his wife. The Pyramids contained Kings of Egypt. Westminster Abbey in London holds the bodies of English nobles. Mohammed’s tomb is visited often because of its stone coffin and the bones which it contains. Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C., is the honored resting place of many brave Americans.
But today we visit in spirit a grave site that is different than all these. As we view the garden tomb we see a grave site that is famous, not because of the person who is buried there, but famous and important precisely because of the one who is NOT buried there. This garden tomb is empty.
Based On: Isaiah 53:4-6
Today we see our Savior on the cross, but to understand better what is happening on the cross let’s start in the Garden of Eden. There in the garden, God told Adam not to eat from a certain tree in the middle of the garden. “You may eat from any other tree but if you eat from this tree you will die.” Even though Adam and Eve knew God’s command they ate the fruit from that one tree. And what was the result? Death. The sprirtual death was immediate – their relationship with God was destroyed. Eventually their bodies would also die.
Based On: John 12:20-33
When Johann Sebastian Bach, the famous composer, would write a piece of music he often began with the letters J. J., an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “Jesus Juva” which means “Jesus help”. Then, at the end of the piece he wrote the letters S. D. G., an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” which means “to God alone the glory”. Bach said, “The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God.”
Based On: Mark 9:2-9
The Old Testament prophet Elisha was the best spy Israel could have. He knew exactly what the King of Aram was going to do and when. Of course it was God who supplied him that information, but the King of Aram was so frustrated by this he sent a large group of soldiers and chariots to capture Elisha. They surrounded the town Elisha and Elisha’s servant were in. The servant was terrified so Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” When the servant looked he saw horses and chariots of fire covering the hillside and surrounding their Aramean enemies. What comfort that glorious sight must have given the servant. As we approach Lent and focus on the suffering of Christ, we have an even greater comfort. Christ’s glory brings us comfort. It brings us comfort as Christ suffers and also as we suffer.
Based On: 2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman was a great and powerful man. He was a leader in the army of Aram (also known as Syria) and he worked closely with King Ben-Hadad – the king of Aram. It is difficult to determine exact dates, but he lived more than 2800 years ago – somewhere between 900 and 800 B.C. Because of his position he was one of the most powerful and influential men in one of the most powerful and influential countries of the time.
But Naaman had a problem. He had leprosy. The word leprosy was sometimes used for other skin diseases, but most often we think about the disease that eats away at the body and eventually brings death. Today we have a treatment for this type of leprosy and so to understand what Naaman was going through it might help to think of a terminal form of cancer. Except that instead of destroying the body from the inside out, the leprosy was destroying Naaman from the outside in. As far as Naaman know, he would one day die from this disease. And yet, this leprosy was a gift from God.