WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES CHRISTMAS MAKE?

Are you ready for Christmas?  All the kids say, “Yes!”  All the adults say, “No!” Because the adults feel a lot like the 12 days of Christmas, right?  If not right now, then you will soon. Are you experiencing a lot of craziness? Are things out of control?

Some of you are saying, “I have meals to prepare.  I have presents to wrap.  I have presents to buy. I need to put up the Christmas tree.”  In spite of all that you have done, still have to do and the entire crazy scene, in a few short weeks the whole world shuts down and they focus on a single event, ready or not.  The freeways will be empty.  Offices will be closed.  And the whole world focuses on this single event.

Why is Christmas such a big deal? What difference does it make? How can a baby born 2000 years ago on the other side of the world have such an impact on the entire world in 2010? 

It’s because it was no ordinary baby.  The Bible says, God came to earth.  That’s what Emmanuel means, God with us. That’s bigger news than when man landed on the moon. God invaded earth.  And that event split history into A.D. and B.C.  Every time you write a check, what’s your reference point?  The birth of Jesus Christ.  2010 — from what?  From the birth of Jesus Christ. 

But He was no ordinary baby.  If He had stayed in the crib, we wouldn’t be here today.  He grew up and He taught some powerful things about God because He was God. 

So?  Even if He was God.  What difference does it make?  It makes a big difference!

I want to be as simple and as straightforward and as brief as possible.  The Bible says that because Jesus Christ came at Christmas time, here are some things that can be true in your life.  I want you to remember this in 2010 and forever.  It has to do with your past, present and future. Pretty much all of your life. I am going to explain one reason today and the other two in coming posts.
 
Here’s the first reason why Christmas is such a big deal. BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST CAME AT CHRISTMAS, MY PAST CAN BE FORGIVEN.

Romans 3:23-24 (Living Bible) “All of us have sinned yet now God declares us `not guilty’ of offending him if we trust in Christ who freely takes away our sin.”  That’s good news.  The fact is none of us are perfect.  I don’t measure up to my own standard, much less God’s.

Do you ever read the letters to Santa Claus in the newspaper? They can be so adorable. .  One little kid wrote, “Dear Santa, There are three little boys who live at our house.  There’s Jeffrey.  He is two.  There’s David. He is four.  There’s Norman.  He is seven.  Jeffrey is good some of the time.  David is good some of the time.  Norman is good all of the time.  I am Norman.” 

The problem is — none of us are Norman’s.  None of us are good all of the time. We all have regrets and guilt has a devastating effect on our lives.  It robs us of happiness.  It causes depression.  It can make you sick.  Guilt does all kinds of things to us because we don’t know how to get rid of it.  People will do anything to relieve guilt.  They’ll take drugs or get drunk or try therapy or go to Disneyworld.  Thrills, travel, become workaholics.  Anything to cover up the things I wish hadn’t happened in my life.

But there’s only one solution– forgiveness.  The good news is God wants to forgive you.  He wants to clear your conscious.  Now, when God forgives you, here are some things about it that you need to know.

  •  It’s instant.  He doesn’t make you wait to forgive you.  You don’t have to wait through a long probationary period before you’re forgiven.
  •  It’s undeserved.  You’ll never earn it.  You can’t work for it.  You can’t beg God for it.  You can’t bribe God for it.  It’s undeserved.
  •  It’s complete.  The Bible says, When we confess our sins to God we give them to Christ, God says, “Their sins will I remember no more.”  That’s one of the most amazing verses in the Bible, that God can forget.  The God, who made the whole world, chooses to forget your sin once it’s forgiven.  Isn’t that a mind blower? If you are a Christian and you died tonight and go to heaven and said, “God, about that divorce…”  He’d say, “What divorce?”  “God, about that dishonesty…”  “What dishonesty?”  “God about that remark…”  “What remark?”  It’s forgiven. 

What God forgets, you can forget too.  That’s good news.  Most of us, even if we believe God forgives us, don’t forgive ourselves. We hold onto guilt over the years.  Somebody said, When God forgives us, He takes our sin and throws them in the deepest part of the ocean and then He puts up a “No fishing” sign.  Don’t drag them out again.  Satan wants to keep you under guilt, but God says it’s forgiven. 

My past can be forgiven.  Even if there were no such thing as heaven, and there is, but even if there weren’t, it would be worth it just to have a clear conscious.  Regardless of who you are or what you’ve done or what you think you’ve done, you matter to God and He cares about you.  He wants to forgive you. God says your past can be forgiven.

Have you ever been halfway through painting a room and wish you could start over?  Have you ever been halfway through a meal and wish you could start over?  Halfway through some project? Halfway through life and wish you could start over?  “If anyone is in Christ, he becomes a new person altogether. The past is finished and gone.  Everything becomes fresh and new.” 

God wants you to not just turn over a new leaf, God wants to give you a new life.  It’s like starting again, being born all over.  If there is anything that’s good news it’s that God says my past can be forgiven.   

Let that reality set the tone for your Christmas season. If you have any questions about God’s forgiveness I would love to hear from you. Next time I will share a second reason why Christmas is such a big deal.

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