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Getting Ready for Christmas




GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS

 

TITUS 2:11-14                                                                                  17 DECEMBER 2023

                                          PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH

 

Birthdays are special days for most people. Children especially like to have their birthdays recognized. They like the attention and the gifts. And they feel good about being a year older. For the rest of us – at least those of us who are older – beginning a year older may not be such


Today we are approaching the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world.


And today, in the world He came into, it seems that most people are paying very little attention to Him and much attention to the secular attraction of the season.


There is an old saying that says that there are three types of people:


People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who have no earthly idea what is happening.


Many people really try hard to make Christmas happen. They buy presents, send out greeting cards, decorate their homes, and are busy with all kinds of activities of the season. And all of these things are done to help make Christmas a reality for them.


There are other people who watch Christmas happen all around them. They see the decorations; they hear the sounds of Christmas – the music, the bells, and they absorb as much of the Christmas spirit as they can.


Then there are other people who go through all the activities and yet have no idea what is really happening because there is a heavenly dimension to Christmas that they have missed.


W E Sangster tells a story about going to a wedding reception where he didn’t know anybody except the friend who took him there. As he mingled around, he saw that everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves.


But there was one girl sitting in a corner all alone. She was a pretty girl, with a nice smile on her face, but she was alone.


He asked his friend, “Who is that girl in the corner?” His friend said, “That is the bride.”


That is really strange, isn’t it? Think about it – how would you feel if you were the bride at your wedding reception and nobody paid any attention to you?


Then think about this --- this may be the way Jesus feels on His birthday. Everybody is celebrating. But how many are really paying any attention to Him at all at this time?

 

So, as we prepare for Christmas, let’s go to Paul’s letter to Titus 2:11-14. Do we find the Christmas story in Titus? We will soon see how it does.


READ – Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

This passage looks at the past, present, and future and gives us four perspectives to consider.


I.             It Commemorates the Past


“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.


This really is a great Christmas text, although it does not say anything about angels, shepherds, or Mary and Joseph and their journey to Bethlehem.


There is no mention of a baby being born and wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger; there are no wise men mentioned, no gold, frankincense, or myrrh.


None of those things are mentioned in this Titus passage. Yet, in that one little sentence, Paul says precisely what Christmas is when he says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” And that is our Savior, Jesus Christ!


That is the message of Christmas. In a darkened world- - darkened because of the wickedness and sin of mankind – God sent the light of His love, expressed in a baby, born of a virgin, and laid in a manger in Bethlehem.


A man named Bob Benson told of a special Christmas in his life.


He said, “Every time I look back on that particular Christmas, I get a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart. It was a very special Christmas.


He said, “I knew it was going to be a special Christmas because all the kids were coming home. When you are a father of 5, and they are all married and have children of their own, that is a very rare and wonderful event.


He said, “I can’t tell you how proud and happy Peg and I were on Christmas Sunday when all of us sat together in church. It was such a special time of praise and worship. I look back on that day with great thanksgiving.”


Then he said, “The third reason I knew it was going to be a special Christmas is because the doctor had just told me that there would be no surgery in January. You see, I had cancer, and my future seemed so uncertain. But now I could celebrate Christmas without the dread of surgery and having that hanging over my head.”


Christmas came to that family, and it was one of his family’s greatest Christmases.


But Bob said, “That Christmas was good, not because we had a new home, not because all the kids were there, and not because I didn’t have to face surgery. Christmas really does not depend upon those things.”


Then, Bob mentioned Bob and Shirley Shields, a couple in their church. Their house burned down just before Christmas, and all their possessions were lost in the fire. But they still had Christmas because Christmas doesn’t depend on a house.


Christmas depends upon Jesus, the grace of God revealed to man.


Bob continued, “Christmas even comes to those who are in sorrow. He remembered a girl who had been in the hospital at the same time he was. There was very little the doctors could do for her, and she died and was buried a few days before Christmas.


Even to the home and family of that girl, Christmas came because Christmas doesn’t depend on good health.


Christmas depends on Jesus, the Revelation of God’s grace to all men. That is the essence of Christmas.


So, in this season, let’s commemorate the past – the Good News that at just the right time, God broke into human history and revealed His grace to us.


II.            Secondly, we need to consecrate the present.


(Consecrate = devotion to; dedication to; even to make sacred)


Listen to verse 12 again: Salvation is to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions. It teaches us to lead self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.


It is obvious that our world is following an ungodly path. Each year it is increasingly becoming more and more ungodly.


And as we become more and more ungodly, we become more and more in tune with worldly lusts and pleasures. They become an acceptable way of life.


God is left out of the thinking of the world today. He is no longer a vital part of our government – the government which was founded on Christian principles.


How do we consecrate the present as we live out our days on this earth? We can only do it when we are willing to say “no” to those things that are wrong.


Until recently, it has been permissible and traditionally practiced for prayers to be said prior to any athletic event in public schools. Today, that practice has largely, if not completely, been outlawed or ignored in today’s schools.


I am old enough to remember that we could even pray in the classroom. It was considered to be normal and not objectionable by special interest groups.


As Paul writes to Titus, he says that God’s grace teaches us to say “no” to all that. We are to go against the grain – to be a Christian in an un-Christian world.


Here is the reality of it – If we are going to stand up for God in an ungodly world, we must dare to be different; dare to say “no” to those things that are contrary to God’s word. We must say “yes” to Self-Control. We must say “yes” to godly living in this present age.


Too often, even some Christians are negligent in doing that. They say, “I don’t know if I can do that.” The influence of the world is so strong and so overwhelming.


But, it is possible to stand up and speak in the name of God, His Son, Jesus Christ. We have the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, and He will help us live a godly life even in this depraved world. God can still empower us to live lives that will glorify Him.


So, we need to continually consecrate and rededicate ourselves to God and His will for us daily and now as we anticipate the celebration of the coming of God into our world through His Son, Jesus Christ.


III.          Thirdly, we need to give thought to the promise of the future.


Look at verse 13 again: “While we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”


Do you ever get tired of hearing negative news? There is so much gloom and doom about what is going on in the world today. At this time of year, there is so much focus on the fact of how much money people spend on Christmas giving. And that is the only thing that matters  - how Christmas spending will affect our economy!


The thinking is this: If we don’t buy more than we can afford, the economy is going to fall apart. When I hear opinions like that, I get a picture in my head of Jesus weeping over the concerns of the leaders of our country.


A few years ago, a TV commercial was put out by a credit card company. In that commercial, parents were told that they must buy what their children want for Christmas.


A little boy had his list all written out – filled with expensive items. Dad was explaining to his son that he just didn’t have the money to get all those things for him for Christmas. The commercial announcer breaks in and says, “Dad, your child’s Christmas doesn’t have to be ruined. Just take out your card and buy whatever your children want. You can do it today.”


One thing we know is true – the Bible teaches us that “in this world, you have no security.” Treasures laid up in this world will rust or rot or waste away. Thieves will break in and steal what you worked so hard to accumulate.


The only thing we will have forever is what we have deposited in Heaven.


Our Christian faith is not built on this world that could fall apart – be destroyed tomorrow.


Our Christian faith is built on a coming King.


Let’s go back a moment to verses 11 and 13. Notice there that the words “appearedand “appearing.” These speak of Christ’s first appearance on earth and His second appearance on earth.


First, He came as a little baby, born in an obscure village with very few people aware of His appearance.


When He comes a second time – angels will shout, trumpets will blow, and everybody, every eye, will see Him. Every knee will bow before Him.


When He came the first time, He came to die. When He comes again, He will come to reign.


When He came the first time, He came to wear a crown of thorns. When He comes again, He will be wearing the Crown of King of Kings and Lord of Lords.


Jesus in our King. When He comes again, He will know each of us by our names. He knows every hair on our heads.


He knows every part of our lives. When He comes again, we will know Him, and He will know us because He is our King!


IV.        Finally, we need to concentrate on our purpose.


Look again at verse 14: “Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”


Jesus gave Himself for two reasons: to redeem us and to purify us.


We are like slaves on the auction block – enslaved to our wickedness and sin. But He came and paid the price. He bought us. He set us free from our sins.


We have become His people. We have become a royal priesthood. We have become His church.


Notice what verse 23 says: “ His people are eager to do: His people are “eager to do what is good.”


God’s purpose for us is to do what is right and what is wholesome and what is good in this world, and to stand up for righteousness in the midst of overwhelming unrighteousness, to be God’s people.


We need to concentrate on that purpose.


So, in these next few days leading up to Christmas, let us think about the past. Think of all the precious memories you have accumulated through the years. Treasure them as you should.


All that said, my prayer is that we will all realize that the most important part is this:


That at one specific time in history, God broke into the world and revealed Himself and His grace to all the world.


He has done His part. Now, our part is this:


  • Consecrate your life to God.

  • Say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly pleasures.

  • Say “YES” to upright living, to self-control – to Godly living in these wicked times.

Remember that Jesus is still on schedule to come back again. His schedule – not mine, not yours.


Keep in your minds and in your hearts that that day will come. And, then, the life that we have lived in Him and for Him will be worth it all.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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