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An all-creatures Bible Message

10 JANUARY 1988

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Isaiah 6
6:25, 33
Mark 4:1-20

Preparation Verse:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

Last week we asked the question, "Where was Jesus born?" We also sought the answer to another question, "Where is He now?"
So, also this week, I'll ask that second question again. Where is Jesus now? Is Jesus alive in your heart?
Or, did you leave that special Christmas present of God's love behind, again, at Christmas? I pray not!
Therefore, with the hope for the best, I'll wish you all a merry Christmas. Or even better yet, why not each of us say: “Happy Birthday, Jesus, for being born anew every day in my heart.” And when you feel this way, that's when you know that it's Christmas every day.
Last week after the service, a woman said to me that the message of last week's service was meant more for those who were not in church, than for those who were in church. So I suggested to her that she share the message with them. Therefore, I'll challenge all of you; did you share a little Christmas with someone this past week?
That challenging, and hopefully convicting, question will now lead us into the subject of today's sermon: Is the true Spirit of Christmas still with you?
This morning we read two portions of Scripture. The first was Isaiah 6, which speaks of our holy God and His call to a willing prophet who knew his own unworthiness, yet accepted the call to speak to those who thought they were worthy, but really were not.
The second portion of Scripture we read was from Mark 4. It told the story of the sower and the seed. Most of the seed unfortunately didn't produce any crop, but one portion did, and it produced an abundance.  
At this point, some might be asking, "What do these Scripture verses have to do with having Christmas every day?"
First of all, in order for us to have Jesus in our hearts, and Christmas every day, we cannot be like the people in Isaiah's day. We cannot be so hard of heart that we are deaf to the word of God or so blind that we cannot see the wonders of His creation that speak of Him.
We cannot be so hardened that we begin to think that the Bible was written for some people way back then who needed that sort of stuff.
We cannot start to think that we are in control of the universe, and therefore are not accountable for what we do.
We cannot live in a world governed by both situational ethics and Jesus Christ, and at the same time expect to have any part in Jesus Christ, let alone have Christmas every day.
This is exactly what happened to the people in Isaiah's day. They turned away from God, and everyone sought to do their own thing. As a result, God turned against them. Are not we, in our society today, doing much the same thing?
How did the people in Isaiah's day permit such a thing to occur, and how are we allowing a similar situation to take place today?
The answer is found in Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed.  (Mark 4:1-20) The sower of this parable is really Jesus, or perhaps others who are preaching the gospel. The seed is the Word of God. And we, the hearers of this parable, are the various kinds of ground.
The first category of ground is so hardened that they cannot receive the word at all. Unfortunately we have people like that in our churches. They really don't want to hear the truth about Jesus Christ, and what our relationship to Him should be like.
These people only want their ears tickled. They don't want to know that we are all sinners, and that we must repent if we are going to get into heaven. They just make up the lie that God is so good that He is going to let everyone into heaven. And this is probably why the Lord says in Matthew 7:13-14:

13. “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.
14. “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

When the second classification of soil people hear false statements, their understanding of the truth is so weak that they believe the lie instead of the truth, thus making the church even weaker.
How does this second group get this way? They don’t have any depth of soil. They haven't read their Bibles. There is nothing for the seed to grow on. There is no soil, no water, and no fertilizer.
They cannot tell the difference between a lie and the truth. And since, for some reason, it's easier to believe a lie than the truth, especially when it comes to the things of God, they head off in the wrong direction.
Now this second group becomes harder and harder, and add to the problem of the first group. And what do they do? They steal Christmas, or at least try to steal away the true meaning. They do this by adding so many unimportant things to Christmas that it eventually becomes more of a burden than a joy to many. And this is where we come to the third category of soil people.
This third category of soil people often are the ones that we always see around the church. They do a lot of church work. They have heard the word many times. But all too often, these people are more like Martha in doing the work, than like Mary hearing the word. 'They also are usually weak in the word, for they are too busy doing all of the things they are doing, than spending time with the Lord in prayer and study.
Yes, what this third category of soil people are doing is important, and the church needs their work very much; but their priorities are out of line with those set by the Lord.
These people tend to worry about this and that, and getting this, and doing that, or that we need something, or about what we are going to do about it, and they forget what the Lord said in Matthew 6:33:     

33. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."

And then do you know what happens? They begin to get tired, and think that others don't appreciate what they are doing. They get upset because the first and second category soil people are not coming to church regularly and not donating as they should. They feel like giving up, and many have done just that, and the church becomes even weaker.
These same kinds of people let the cares of the world bother them so much that they begin to think that God doesn't care either. Nothing is further from the truth. God cares a great deal. So much so that He gave us Jesus.
This is just one example of what has caused us to head in the same direction as the people in Isaiah’s day.
Church! It’s time we stop giving in to Satan.
It's time we stop letting him steal the Word of God from us.
It's time we stop him from weakening our churches.
It's time we stop letting him steal our joy.
It's time we start putting Jesus Christ first in our lives.      
It's time we start making every day Christmas.
It's time we start putting joy back into being a Christian.
It's time we start opening up our Bibles and really come to know the Word in a very personal way.
It's also time we start calling those who have become discouraged and are not coming to church. Start by telling them that you miss them, and even better, that you love them and that Jesus loves them. Then take them in your loving hand and bring them back.
And at the same time, truly desire to know the real truth about God’s plan for us. Don't fear salvation or the preaching about it, but let it fill you with joy. Believing the lie will only lead to death, but the truth will set us free.
Yes, Church, it's time we begin to look like a church and not a funeral parlor.
It's time we become filled with the joy of the Lord, and let others know it.
It's time we have the true meaning of Christmas in our hearts every day.
It's time we truly make Jesus Christ Lord of our lives.
It's time we start plowing up that hardened ground, pulling out the rocks and brush, and plant good seed.
And when we do this, we will have produced an abundant crop, for we will become the fourth category of ground. Our churches will again be full. For the love and joy of the Lord will shine out to the entire community.

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