How to Get Ready for Christmas (Rev. Dr. E. Wayne Hanks, Senior Pastor)
Anecdote - Grandmother who sent cards with, "Buy your own presents," @ bottom, but forgot to enclose checks w/ cards. It pays to be ready for Christmas.
Isaiah 40:3-5 refers to John the Baptist
Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the L ord ! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the L ord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The L ord has spoken!” (Isaiah 40:3-5 NLT)
3 Ways to Prepare for Christmas
1) Luke 18:15-17 - Become like a little child, in terms of dependence on God.
One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17 NLT)
Anecdote of Jason & Jennie - "I've been good, but Jennie just robbed the store."
* Dependence on God (Matthew 5:3-9)
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (Matthew 5:3-10 NLT)
* Sense of Wonder ()
Moses @ burning bush, shepherds @ birth of Christ
2) rediscover the Blessing of Giving (Acts 20:35)
And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35 NLT)
Luke 6:38 - Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” (Luke 6:38 NLT)
3) Turn the Lights On - Philippians 2:14-15
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. (Philippians 2:14, 15 NLT)
Matthew 5:16 - In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:16 NLT)
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