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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Christmas sermons

It’s a Wonderful Life


The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is to watch some of the great Christmas movies that have been produced over the years. I would have to say that one of my favorite Christmas movies is the 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.


I think most of us have seen this movie but for the benefit of those who have not I will share the plot with you. The movie tells the story of George Bailey whom Jimmy Stewart portrays. George is the kind of guy you would want to be your best friend, he always puts the needs of others above his own. As a child he saves the life of his younger brother who has fallen into a frozen pond, in doing this George permanently loses the hearing in his left ear. Through a series of unfortunate events George gets the blame for losing a large sum of money and he find himself on a bridge contemplating suicide. It is while he is on the bridge he meets Angel second Class Clarence. For the rest of the movie Clarence takes George on a tour of what the world would have been like if he had never been born. The movie ends happily with George returning to his family and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.


I love this movie because it is a wholesome story you can watch with your whole family, the acting is excellent and because it makes you stop and take stock of what a wonderful life we are all blessed with. It’s that last reason that brings me to the lesson we are going to look at this morning.


We do have wonderful lives, we are blessed by a God who loves and cares for us and has provided more than any of us could ask or imagine, so if you will allow me to play Clarence today, we are going to look at four things that make our lives wonderful.


1. God Created The World Perfectly For Us
The first reason that we have wonderful lives is that God created the world perfectly for us. Genesis 1:1-13 says

Genesis 1:1-13

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. 6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. 9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.




We couldn’t have a wonderful life if we didn’t have a world perfectly made for us to live in. In the passage we see where God allowed the Earth to produce sustenance but often times we don’t consider the very position of the Earth and the other celestial bodies when considering how great our God is. 


Consider for a moment that if the Earth were five feet closer to the sun that the surface of the planet would be too hot to support life, likewise if the earth were five feet farther away from the sun the surface of the planet would be too cold to support life. Consider the position of the moon. If the moon were closer to the Earth by just a fraction then the tides of the oceans would be 35-50 feet high over most of the surface of the Earth.


God thought enough of us to not only create us a world that is perfectly suited to support human life but he also made sure that he placed that world in the most perfect spot in the universe. He did this because he thought highly of us, the Psalmist says he made us a little lower than the angels, and because he did this we enjoy a wonderful life.


2. God Made Us Perfectly In His Image

It’s getting to be that time of year when you start looking in the mirror and realizing that is more of you there this year than there was last year. Right now as I am preaching this sermon I know there are people out there thinking about the wonderful meal they have waiting for them at home and the diet that will take place starting January 1st. As we think about our physical body and all that goes with that it is impossible for me to forget that we have a wonderful life because God made us Perfectly in his image. Genesis 1:24-27 says this.


Genesis 1:24-27
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image,

   in the image of God he created him;

   male and female he created them.


So God has been busy creating this world and he has created all sorts of creatures to be in this world but none of them look like him and so he decides that he wants a creation that is like him so he creates human beings in male and female forms. Growing up I heard this passage over and over again and I was always impressed with it because it was God’s inspired word but after becoming a parent I understand this passage a little better.


The first time you look into the eyes of your child and you start to see them begin to look and act like you begin to understand why God wanted a creation in his own image and likeness. You also begin to understand the joy and the pain that can come from parenthood in much the same way God receives joy and pain from us who are his children. It is because God thought enough of us to create him in his image that we have wonderful lives.



3. God Gave His Son as a Perfect Sacrifice
I believe a large part of the wonderful lives that we are blessed with is the concept of sacrifice. We live in a country that was built upon sacrifice, many of us have been blessed with higher education because of the sacrifice of our parents and all of us who are in Christ enjoy that privilege because of sacrifice.


Every Sunday we come to this place and gather around the table and celebrate the Sacrifice of God giving up his Son for the salvation of Man. We celebrate this sacrifice because without this sacrifice we would have no life at all. There are so many places in the New Testament that talk about this perfect sacrifice but I believe the Apostle Paul says it best.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


While we do spend time every first day of the week considering this sacrifice it should not only be limited to that one day of the week. We should spend every day living in a state of awareness of the perfect sacrifice that God gave to us.


4. God Gave Us Life To The Fullest
It is that sacrifice that brings us to the final reason that we live wonderful lives and that is that God not only made a sacrifice to give us life but to give us life to the fullest. Often times it is said that there is a difference between breathing and living simply meaning that life can be enjoyable if we live our lives to the fullest.


When you consider the life that Jesus led you come to inevitable conclusion that Jesus Christ lived his life to the fullest. The carpenter’s son from Nazareth that turned into a rabbi that taught like no one else led his life to the fullest every day. The Earthly ministry of Christ was at its best three years. That means that Jesus had three years to influence people and to set in place the new covenant for his people. Knowing all of that we can deduce that Jesus had to pack a large amount of life into those three years.


In our day and time people are fond of purpose statements. It is the idea of living life to its fullest that gave Jesus his purpose here on Earth. The disciple whom Jesus loved said it this way in the Gospel of John.


John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.


It is a wonderful life that we are all blessed with. At the end of the movie Jimmy Stewart ran through the streets of his hometown shouting “Merry Christmas” to everyone he passed. Today we have looked at four ways that God have given us a wonderful life. Why don’t we leave this place not proclaiming Merry Christmas, but about the God who gave us our wonderful life? (Invitation)


Paul Cartwright


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