THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS: BE RICH, DO GOOD AND GIVE GENEROUSLY
(Beausejour Church – Pastor Chris Jordan)
- To download a printable version of these notes, click HERE.
- To listen to or download the audio MP3, click HERE.
INTRO TO TOPIC: DEEP QUESTIONS OF THE UNIVERSE:
What is the meaning of life? What is God like? Can a leopard change its spots? How do they get the caramilk into the caramilk bar? And – what does the fox say?
But – what is Christmas all about? AUDIENCE RESPONSE.
- I love Christmas – it’s my most favourite time of the year. Family memories.
- Survey in our Christian club: top three answers: presents, a Christmas tree, and snow!
- Is this what Christmas is all about?
- This morning I want to talk to you about the spirit of Christmas!
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS: “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).
- The first Christmas happened 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born!
- It was a celebration of JOY: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”
- However, why is it that many people don’t experience that joy today?
KEY TEXT – THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS:
“Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.” (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
- In Canada, we don’t think we’re rich, but the truth is, we’re all rich.
- The last time I felt rich was at the age of 16 when I got my first paycheque from McD’s.
- If you own a car, you’d be considered rich by most people in the world.
- If you have an iPhone; bought a new one even though the old one still works, you’re rich.
- If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.
- If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
- More than 1 billion people do not have access to safe water!
- The point isn’t ‘yahoo, we’re rich’, but what are we going to do with it?
THE BIG IDEA: What is the true spirit of Christmas? To do good, be rich in good works, and to give generously to others. When we do this, we will experience abundant joy.
I. DO GOOD:
Jesus said: “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28).
- This is a radical statement! It kind of makes you stand up and say, “Huh?”
- Jesus tells us to pray for those who curse us – I have a hard time praying for those I love!
- Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to prosper is that enough good men do nothing.” The Bible talks about “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, who went about doing good…” (Acts 10:38).
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: How can we do good? AUDIENCE FEEDBACK
- Bless People. Never pass up an opportunity to pray for someone.
- Simple Acts: A kind word, hug, smile or a simple hello can mean so much!
- Walk in Forgiveness: We’re coming to the end of the year. Let go of past hurts and offenses and start the New Year with a clean slate!
II. BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS: (Message Bible = be rich in helping others).
“To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.” (Luke 6:29-30).
- Jesus adds: “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” (Matt. 5:41).
- Turn the other cheek, go the extra mile – this is RICH in good works!
JOHN THE BAPTIST PREPARING PEOPLE FOR JESUS:
“And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.” (Luke 3:3-4).
- “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…” (Luke 3:8a).
- “So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” (v.10).
- What did John say? Go to church, pray, read your Bible. That sounds religious! No:
- “He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” (v.11).
- John said true religion – good works = help those who are in need!
- James said, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27). Helping people!
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: How can we be rich in good works? AUDIENCE
- Get involved serving: In your local church and in the community.
- Acts of Kindness: If you see someone in need, help them. Do you have a snow blower? Clean the driveway of one of your neighbours!
- Specific Opportunities in the Church: ushering, children’s ministry, sound.
III. GIVE GENEROUSLY: (Message Bible = be extravagantly generous).
“And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.” (Luke 6:31-34).
- Even a sinner (someone who doesn’t know God) will lend to those who can repay them.
- But God wants our generosity to be extravagant – giving more than is necessary or wise.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: How can we give generously? AUDIENCE
- Tithe: The first thing the Bible says about giving is to tithe to your local church (Mal. 3:10). This is the first 10% of your income. Many Christians stop here.
- Give to the Poor: “Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.” (Prov. 22:9). God also wants us to be generous in giving to others.
- Specific Opportunities: Union Gospel Mission; our church’s Christmas hamper program; the local food bank; Costa Rica mission trip.
- EXAMPLE: Our family supports a young girl named Angie in Costa Rica through World Vision; doing shoeboxes every Christmas for OCC, etc.
WHY SHOULD WE DO GOOD, BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS, AND GIVE GENEROUSLY?
1. Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).
Is the expression that money can’t buy happiness true? If you think money can’t buy happiness, maybe you’re spending it wrong. How do we normally spend our money?
CNN Study: “Winning the Lottery: Does it guarantee happiness?” People think it does.
This article is about how when people win the lottery, their lives are ruined. When they win the lottery: They spend all the money and go into debt. All their friends and everyone they’ve ever met find them and ask for money. It ruins their social relationships and makes people selfish.
Experiment in Vancouver, BC: Gave money to college students to spend in one day – some on themselves (bills, expenses, gift for self), some on others (charitable donation or gift for others) – and measured their happiness. Some got $5, some got $20. End of day: first group bought jewelry, make-up or coffee. Second group bought a gift for a family member, gave to homeless people, or bought coffee for others. Results: People who spent money on others got happier, people who spent money on themselves, nothing happened. (Michael Norton, Ted Talks).
2. Jesus wants us to be like Him:
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:35-38).
- Jesus said, “I want you to do good, be rich in good works, and be generous because that’s how I am, and you’re my follower.” That’s what God is like and we want to be like Him.
- Our generous giving should cause our community to say, “What’s that all about?”
- Our generosity allows people to see God’s generosity. This is the spirit of Christmas:
- “For God so loved the world that He GAVE… Jesus!” (John 3:16).
- The spirit of Christmas – is the Spirit of Christ – to be like Jesus!
Let’s do good, be rich in good works, and give generously. This is the spirit of Christmas!
Note: Parts of this message were inspired by a message I heard by Pastor Andy Stanley.Beausejour Community Church Website: www.beausejourchurch.ca Pastor Chris Jordan’s Blog: https://pastorchrisjordan.wordpress.com/