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Dec 24, 2020

2020 Christmas Eve | The Gift

2020 Christmas Eve | The Gift

Passage: Luke 2:1-19

Speaker: Matt Petty

Series: Christmas Eve Services

Category: Christmas Eve Service

Keywords: love, christmas, jesus, manger, hope, joy, salvation, peace, saved, wisemen, christmas songs

The Gift | Matt Petty | Burnt Hickory Christmas Eve at Burnt Hickory is a special time to celebrate the birth of Christ through music and a short sermon. Remember the anticipation as a child of what gifts would await us on Christmas morning or the heartwarming thoughts of spending time with family and friends? This time of year might being memories flooding back to us. Think about a gift you received from someone who knows you better than you know yourself, or getting something that was your hearts desire. What is the ultimate gift? Maybe Christmas is a hard time for you. The burdens, unmet expectations, and even abusive and toxic experiences might leave you wondering why celebrate anything? Your hope is gone, and it's tough even just to function and get through the holiday without breaking down. No matter your circumstance, as a Christian, we get to look forward in celebration of Christmas, not for the worldly gifts, but for the greatest gift, God with us. Christ was born. God became man. That may seem like a weird thing to celebrate, but in light of what God's plan is - it's worth responding to. Christ became man so that He could bear our sins on a cross as our punishment, and died in our place - to save us. He takes the penalty of our sins and our punishment away, and all you have to do is believe and accept Him as lord of your life. Christmas is the perfect time of year to stop and consider what is there to be hopeful in this world. Especially in an ever changing and dark day we live in right now. What brings hope for life? What do we have to look forward to? If you have nothing to hope for, then take time to listen to this message, about Jesus Christ and what He has done. He wants you to be saved. He died for your sin. You can call our prayer hotline - 770-590-0372, or reach out by taking the next step - https://www.burnthickory.com/next. Someone will reach out to you.

Man, a couple of years ago, there was a popular thing that came about in Christendom in the Christian land. And if you were a super spiritual person, and you were moving into the new year, you were supposed to pick a word that kind of seared into your soul for the next year, it was a word that you were supposed to pray that God was going to kind of give you a vision or give you a moment or kind of set you on some tracks for that year. And by no means am I mocking the fact that God could do that. By no means am I saying that is not an incredibly good practice. But what I am saying is that I was a miserable failure at it. I really was. And I don't know if it's just because of my personality. And I don't know if it's just because of one word for one long time. And 365 days, I'm not really sure I did really, really well. On January 1, when the word hit me, I did really well on January 10, but then came about January 15 and I don't even remember what the word was anymore. You know, I'm not sure I'm cut out to stand on one word the whole time for an entire year. But what God does in me sometimes though, is He gives us a message for a season. He gives us a word for a season, and if you've been around Burnt Hickory for the last little bit, the last weeks we have used this word to kind of stamp the Christmas season here and the word is, the word gift. The word gift. We've been walking through the gifts that the Magi brought to this young boy Jesus, but the word gift is so special. Because I don't care if you're one years old, or 100 years old, we like a good gift. We like a good present, we like something given to us and Christmas time for some reason, and we know the reason it's the season of the gift. You know, it's hard to think about Christmas and, not think about this word gift, it's hard to think about Christmas and not think about just the fond memories of life. For you, it may go way, way back to family being in a house somewhere in another place and when you close your eyes and think of the gift of Christmas, that's what hits it for you. It may go back to just the gift of having the whole family here or maybe even the gift of sending the whole family back, amen. For you, it may go just to the gift of some special relationships that God has put in your life, possibly this year. Possibly he's put them there for a very long time. For you the word gift around this season, maybe it's the gift of those seasonal recipes, amen. We don't get the rest of the year. You see this word gift really does represent this season that we're at and we've been given this gift of a different season and a different time. And when you think about the Christmas season, there really is the gift of a different pace isn't there? There's time whether it be an extended time, or even just those few moments of your time that there's a different pace. There are different places, whether it's here or grandmas. There are different people, whether they are living with you most of the time or visiting with you, there's this difference of maybe even a different dress that you get to make fun of those sweaters or love those sweaters. There's different music.

It's the only time of the year we can all agree on one radio station, no matter how old we are. You see, we've been given this gift of Christmas and I started thinking about this gift over the last couple of weeks. And I love it because the gift of Christmas gives us a time to reset. And it gives us a time to refocus. And it kind of gives us just this time to recenter our lives. To kind of take the craziness of 2020 that it dealt us and possibly just looked at something that's bigger than us. But you know, the more I think about this gift of Christmas, the more I realized something, and this gift is not just my gift. And it's not just your gift. It's not just my family's gift. And it's not just your family's gift. It's not just this churches gift or this community's gift and I got news for you, it's not just the gift for this nation. It's the gift for the world that we're celebrating. It's the gift that started all of this and here's the thing, this gift it's not a what, it's a who. The gift that sets this season apart and it's spun this season into motion for all of us. It's the gift of Jesus. It's the gift of Emmanuel. It's the gift of God being with us. And you see, that's a big deal. Did you know that all other religions across this world work really, really hard to get to their God? They work really hard to gain acceptance from their God. But listen, I got a secret. Our God came to us and gifted us with his presence. That's the season. That's the season that we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us. And that's the reason that there's something special in this moment, that not even 2020 can take away from us. In fact, it's so special, let me just read it to you. Luke chapter two. "In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place, while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went back to their own town to register. So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea to Bethlehem to the town of David, because he belonged to the house in the line of David. He went there to register with Mary who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. They were there. And the time came for a baby to be born. And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son, and she wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby and keeping watch over their flocks at night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terrified. The angel said to them, Do not be afraid I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. And today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He's the Messiah. He's the Lord. This will be a sign to you, the angel said, you'll find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly a great company of Heavenly hosts appeared with the angels praising God and saying Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace, to those in whom his favor rests." Verse 15, "When the angels had left them, and gone into heaven, the shepherd said to one another, let's go to Bethlehem and let us see this thing that has happened with the Lord has told us about. So, they hurried off, and they found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger. And when they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it, were amazed at what the shepherds had said to them. Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Do you know what I love about the Bible? I love that it's almost like when you read it, it's almost as if when you read it, you can put yourself in the scene.

It's almost like it was written for every generation to be able to know and almost feel as if you were in the place that what was happening is happening. I can almost just picture myself in town in Nazareth, and the Roman guard walking up beside me and unrolling this piece of paper and reading this thing saying, hey, you have to go to be counted. I can almost just see Joseph just shaking his head going, there couldn't be a worse time. I can see him just with his head down, shuffling back home and going Mary, you're not gonna believe this. We got to go. And Lord knows we can't probably say in church what Mary's words were to him at that moment. But she was really pregnant. And when I say really pregnant, I mean, the pregnant where you're already packed in the car, and you're ready to go. Joseph looked at her and said we got to go. So, they hop on to the donkey in the entourage of this couple days journey heading back to Bethlehem and you know, the family was not in a good place, but especially Mary, Mary, poor Mary. Riding all the way back to Bethlehem and it's almost like a train on the way back to a family reunion, if you would. They jump into Bethlehem, it's four times the size that it normally is and you can just feel the air that there's a lot of people that are excited. But then there are some that ran from their family on purpose, amen. And they're having to come back into this town and there's nowhere to stay. The Motel Six is full, the Howard Johnson's is full, the Marriott's been full for many, many days. And you know, Joseph's in trouble for not making reservations.

I told you, Joseph, Mary said, maybe not but she probably did. You should have got with somebody. And it was time for the baby to be born. I can almost put myself there and that look at Mary gave Joseph. And if you've ever had a child, you know the look. It's time, Jesus is born. I can see the shepherds walking up after the birth of Jesus. And nobody really knows what to say. The shepherds are astonished that they're witnessing, that the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father is lying in a manger, the Messiah is there. And I can just almost sense the reactions of all the people that were involved. You know, I got to thinking this week. What would my reaction have been to this gift? You know, if I would have placed myself in this story, what would my reaction to this moment be? Would my reaction be incredibly, incredibly spiritual? Or would my reaction been like, um I'm really not sure because we get to see something in the Bible that's really, really clear. There's a lot of reactions to the gift. If you've been here, over the last couple of weeks, we've been watching the Magi and watching their reaction to this young boy Jesus and they bowed at His feet, and they had been in His presence and they've offered their goods to Him and their worship to Him. Such an incredible reaction. We've also seen King Herod's reaction. King Herod was incredibly threatened. Why? Because the Messiah, this king that was being born was needing to be his king, and he didn't like it. Would that be my reaction that there's another king running the shots in my life? Or is it me? I've gotten to see over the last couple of weeks of just reading this Christmas story, the reaction of the religious leaders I might add. They were incredibly coy. They didn't say anything, they kept their mouth shut, because they wanted things to just be even keel standard, don't rock the boat for Rome. I got to watch just the reaction of the shepherds in the field that we just read, just going, Oh my and worshipping. What about the reaction to Mary and Joseph and them walking into town going man, this gift is coming? What about the reaction to the people that were so amazed? But look at of all of these reactions, I realized that God uses people and puts people together differently. There's one reaction to the gift that I think that we can learn something on this Christmas Eve from and it's the reaction of Mary. The reaction of Mary is the last line that we just read. In fact, in verse 11, it literally just says, "But Mary treasured up all these things and she pondered them in her heart." You know what Mary did? She realized the gift that was being given. She realized the gift that was being offered. And there's two things that happen in her that I just want as part of my life in 2020. She did two things, she treasured, and she pondered. You know what a goal for us. You know, the word treasured means it just means literally, you play something in a spot of prominence that you will protect it with everything you got, despite the other things that are around. That's what it means to treasure something. You would say that you treasure your children, you treasure your home, you treasure your spouse to treasure something, it just means they use put it onto a elevated position. That's what Mary did. But secondly, Mary pondered. We don't use this word ponder a lot. But it literally just means that she thought about it often. Daily, and it ruled her thoughts. When you place together, ruling your thoughts with placing the gift of Christ in a prominent place in your life. I can promise you this. Good things happen. Because Emmanuel means something to us. And I'm reading this and I'm like, what did she treasure? She treasured what verse 11 told us that today in the town of David, a Savior has been born. Has been born.

There's a personal side to that for Mary and Joseph and Jesus. But there's a global side of that to all of us in 2020 today, that Jesus is born, that He's with us. And here's the challenge for this Christmas Eve. The challenge for this Christmas Eve is this. It's that no matter what, no matter what 2020 has thrown your way, which is a lot. No matter what this year has brought you, God is with you. He's with you. It's the gift of Christmas. That Emmanuel, God with us, is with us. You know what else? He loves you. He loves you with an unfailing love. He loves you with the kind of love that even when you let go, He still holds on.

He still grabs you. Hallelujah in the fact that we're not responsible for the power in the relationship. We're responsible for treasuring and pondering the relationship. That's the gift of Christmas. That's the gift we can all get around and celebrate. That's the gift that 2020 can't take this from us. No matter how many people come or don't come no matter how distanced or not distanced no matter how many sicknesses or deaths that we have for us to live is Christ and to die is gain because the gift of Jesus has been given to us and offered to us. Will you treasure it and ponder it?

Emmanuel Lord, today I know that there is a heaviness in our culture, there is a heaviness in our land. There is a heaviness in families, there is so much pain, question and sorrow. There is so much that can drag us down. Today, Lord Jesus, allow us to ponder and allow us to treasure allow us to know that Emmanuel, God is with us. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. It's in Your Holy name we pray, amen.