Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Glory To God in the Highest

Our guest speaker is Lynn Tatro, who is a Nurse Supervisor at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, and a member of our church.  Welcome, Lynn,

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace goodwill to men.”  Luke 2:14

The Christmas Story.  I have heard this Christmas story read from Luke 2 probably forthe last 50 years of my life. It is a family tradition to read Luke 2 on Christmas eve.  However, it was not always a family tradition.  When I was born in 1956 to David and Clara Ward, my parents were not Christians.  We did not go to church.  Actually my aunt Ruby picked me up and took me to Sunday school at Hickory Grove UMC.  I was about 4 years old and I remember even at that young age going to Sunday School.  One night two men came to visit my parents.  They came to our home and sat in our living room and told my parents about Jesus.  The two men were Johnny Long and JC Landreth.  It was after that visit that my parents became Christians.  Actually many of you know that my dad was a Baptist minister.  Things changed around our home.  We went to church and Sunday school.  The Christmas story became a family tradition.

What do we know about the Christmas Story?
Geographically, we know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  Bethlehem is close by to Jerusalem.  It is 6 miles between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  Yet it is a very long way from Nazareth where Joseph and Mary lived to Bethlehem.  70 miles! 
They traveled by donkey and on foot for 70 miles because Caesar Augustus wanted a census taken of all the people in their home city.  Joseph being from the house and family of David had to travel to Bethlehem.  Joseph was walking and Mary was riding.  Mary was also going to have a baby soon.  Very soon.  I am sure they were both extremely tired when they arrived in Bethlehem.  They looked and looked for a place to stay.  There was no room in the inn.  So Mary’s baby child Jesus was born in a stable, wrapped in cloths and laid in a manger.  It was the Christ Child. 

And the angels sang:  Glory to God in the highest and in earth peace, good will to men.
Today we light the advent candle of Peace. 

1)      Peace with in your self and Peace with God
What is Peace?  Peace is a state of harmony, tranquility, lack of violent conflict.  Inner peace refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress.

To acquire peace with God is to be a Christian.  To become a Christian you must
1)      Believe
Hebrews 11:6 “But with out faith it is impossible to please Him:  for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
2)      Repent
Turn to God.  Once you repent you begin a personal relationship with God.  Then you will have peace.
 3)      Obedience
Be obedient to God and Serve Him.
Romans10; 9  “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” 
Do you have peace with in yourself?  Has Jesus taken up residence with in your heart?  Have you put your trust in Jesus?
Psalms 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Jesus wants to give you peace.  Jesus wants you to accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior.  Jesus wants you to open up your hearts door and let Him in.  Jesus wants to be your friend.

How many times have you sung this song?
“What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful,
 Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

There are over 50 verses of Scripture in the Bible where God expresses his love to you his child.  It is called the Father’s Love Letter.
How Jesus knows us:
You may not know me, but I know everything about you  Psalms 139:1
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.  Matthew 10:20-31
I knew you even before you were conceived.  Jeremiah 1:4-5
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:14

How Jesus cares for us:
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalms 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
On day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth.  Revelation 21:3-4
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again.  Romans8:38-39

My question is-Will you be my child?  John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you.  Luke 15:11-32
Peace  John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Colossians 3:15  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,since as members of one body you were called to peace, and be thankful.”

Being a Christian puts peace with in you.  Accepting Jesus as ruler over your heart and life puts peace with in you.

2)      Peace with others.
Harmony.  Do we have harmony with our fellowman?  As brothers and sister in Christ, I hope you all fell at harmony with in this Church with each other.  We are a family in Christ.  As with all families there may be times when we do not agree with one another but as brothers and sisters in a family hopefully we can come to an agreement and work things out. 

Matthew 5:9  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Peace with others at home and abroad.  We are at war now.  We have fought in a war every 25 years.  Think about it.  There has been World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War  We are at war today in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Think about it.  Think a little deeper.  Who is at the root of wars, discord and destroying our peace.  It is Satan.  The spirit of darkness.  Satan does not want us to be Christians and he does not want us to have a Christian Nation.  He will do everything he can to sew discord in our church and destroy our church family.  That is Satan’s job and he is good at it.  He wants you to doubt.  Doubt your faith, doubt your importance to God.  Doubt God’s love for you.
But I personally know someone who is stronger, better and who can overcome the spirit of darkness.  Jesus.  His name is Jesus.

Isaiah 9:6  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:  and the government shall be upon his shoulder:  and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. “  Jesus
3)      Goodwill to men 
What is Good will?  I immediately think of Good will Industries.  They were founded over 100 years ago as a Christian outreach ministry by a Methodist minister named Edgar Helms.  They are still doing tremendous work today.  Everyone knows about Good will Industries.  It is where we drop things off, donate stuff we no longer need so they can be repaired, refurbished and resold.  They have over 2,400 retail stores.  They provide employment and training programs.
Good will.  It may be the good will store.  It may be the soup kitchen.  It could be the homeless man on the street.  Many of us have helped in some way to spread good will.  Our cub scouts are doing a toy drive for Randleman community services.  God uses us to spread good will.  God wants us to care about the people around us.  Don’t be too busy this holiday season to spread Good will.

In closing, I would like to tell a story that was in the Guidepost magazine.
There was a nine year old boy Wally who was big for his age.  However, Wally was nice and friendly to everyone.  He was no bully and everyone liked him.  One year the school was going to do a Christmas program.  Wally wanted to be a shepherd.  However because of his size, his teacher wanted Wally to be the inn keeper.  Wally took the part home and studied it.  He practiced hard. 
The night of the play arrived.  Everything was going well.  It came to the time when Mary and Joseph knocked on the door of the inn and Wally opened the door and said “What do you want?” Joseph said,” We need a place to stay for the night.”  Wally said, “You’ve got to go find it somewhere else: the inn is full.”  Joseph said, “Are you sure?  We have come a long way and it’s cold.”  Wally said, “ No.  There’s no place here, go somewhere else.”  Joseph said, “But my wife is going to have a baby, isn’t there some corner we can hide in?”
At this point there was silence.  The kind of uncomfortable silence where someone has forgotten their lines.  The prompter whispered “No, Be gone.”  So Wally said “No, Be gone.”  Joseph put his arm around Mary and turned to walk away.
Then big Wally with his big heart blurted out, “Wait a minute, Joseph.  Bring Mary on back.  You can have my room.  I’ll sleep out in the cold.”
There were some that said the Christmas play was ruined.  Wally had messed it all up.  But think about it.   Wally a nine year old boy was willing to sleep out in the cold so that Christ would have the kind of welcome he deserved.
Have you welcomed Christ into your heart?  Do you have a Christian home?
Let us Pray:
Lord, Help us this holiday season to spread good will to others.  Thank you so much for the two men who was obedient to you and visited my parents over 50 years ago so I could grow up in a Christina home.   And Lord, please give everyone in this church today, Peace with each other, and most of all Peace within themselves .  Peace with God. Amen

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