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SermonChristmastime Journey
An all-creatures Bible Message

Christmastime Journey
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
4 December 2016
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Matthew 3:1-12
Romans 15:1-16

Christmastime journey is really something that we should be on all year round, for a true Christmastime journey leads to Jesus Christ and the gates of heaven.
 
Our Christmastime journey is much more than Santa Claus, colorful decorations and lights, and presents, which mostly fade away by early January.
 
Our Christmastime journey should be guiding our daily lives to eternal life with the Lord in heaven; if it is anything else, we are on the wrong journey.
 
The first things we should be noticing on our Christmastime journey is that we are leaving behind all the worldly corruption and violence that causes the suffering and death to millions of humans and billions of other animals every year, and continues to destroy the environment in which we all live.
 
We are to be seeking real peace on earth as it is in heaven, and which brings good will to both humans and other animals, just as it was when Jesus was born in a stable.
 
Let’s start our Christmastime journey today by looking at Matthew 3:1-12…

1. Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
 
2. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

In other words, John was telling the people of his day, and those of us today who read and hear this account, that the price of our ticket for this Christmastime journey is our true repentance from our former life of being a part of this corrupt and evil world, with all it pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death.
 
This journey begins with leaving behind the corrupt and evil ways of this world.
 
And Matthew tells us about John the Baptist…

3. For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying,
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
'Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!' "

Not only is John leading us on our Christmastime journey, but the Lord Jesus is traveling with us, for our repentance has made the way smooth and straight on its way toward heaven.

4. Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

John’s clothing and diet was both a symbol of the corruption of this earth as well as one of repentance.
 
And we all need to be starting on this Christmastime journey just as the people in John’s day were coming out to him to “buy” their tickets without cost.

5. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan;
 
6. and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

Sometimes the hardest people to get to join us on our Christmastime journey are the clergy who promote ways of living both in the corruption of this earth and in the heavenly will of God; note what John says to them.

7. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
 
8. "Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;
 
9. and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Notice carefully that John and the Lord didn’t deny these clergy; they just told them what is required of them; not just for their Christmastime journey, but for the rest of their lives, and follows it up with a warning.

10. "And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
 
11. "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
 
12. "And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
NASB

The trees and the stocks of grain are symbolic of the people, both those in the world and those in the churches, and we all need to decide who we are going to be.
 
Are we going to be wheat, or are we going to be the chaff that will be burned in the fires of heaven?
 
Paul gives us another look at a Christmastime journey in Romans 15:1-16; for a Christmastime journey is not just about ourselves.

1. Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

Think about how the world is today…there are a lot of other humans who are weak and need our help; but, there are also billions of animals who need our help, too, because they are suffering and dying every minute of every day because of most humans’ greed for their flesh and skins, none of which we need.
 
There is no way we can justify their suffering or our indifference to their pain and suffering, and still believe that we can go on the kind of Christmastime journey we have been talking about.

2. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

This is very important, but we cannot ignore the worldly things that they may be doing.
 
At the same time we are edifying them for any good they may be doing, we also need to point out the fact that they are not living in the heavenly will of God, and encouraging them to do so.

3. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached Thee fell upon Me."
 
4. For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

This is the hope that we need to point out to those still living in the worldly and evil ways of this earth with all its violence, suffering, and death.
 
We all need to look heavenward and pass on the blessing that Paul bestows on us.

5. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus;
 
6. that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And the best way to do this is to be the peacemaking children of God whom Jesus calls us to be, and help free the whole of His creation from its present corruption.
 
This is the only way we are going to be able to go on the Christmastime journey we have been talking about.

7. Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

One of the things Jesus said to these people, as He did to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11): "Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more."
 
We are always to be ready to accept and forgive anyone with a truly repentant spirit, just as Jesus forgives us.
 
It doesn’t matter how worldly and evil we may have been; the only thing that should matter is who we are now, and how we are going to be living in the days to come, for such people have a ticket to be on our Christmastime journey.

8. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,

The circumcision refers to the Jewish people.

9. and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,
"Therefore I will give praise to Thee among the Gentiles,
And I will sing to Thy name."

The Gentiles refer to non-Jewish people, both Christians and non-Christians.
 
Jesus cares about all the people, just as we should, for this is all part of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and might; and we cannot forget that this unconditional love must also be extended to every non-human animal in the world.

10. And again he says,
"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people."

We are to give all the people of the world reason to rejoice with the believers, and hopefully all the animals with all those who don’t exploit or eat them.
 
We are to show the whole world what God’s will looks like here on earth, by eliminating all the human caused pain, suffering, and death that we can, and helping to free creation from its present corruption.

11. And again,
"Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him."
 
12. And again Isaiah says,
"There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
In Him shall the Gentiles hope."

Jesse is the father of David, and the root of Jesse is God, and He will give even the non-believers hope, just as we should, for this is all part of our Christmastime journey, a journey that should last all year round.
 
Then Paul offers a prayer…

13. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then Paul encourages all of us to be filled with the heavenly will of God, and to encourage one another as well as to correct one another to stay on our Christmastime journey towards heaven.

14. And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.

We all can and should be like this, and even more so than even Paul and Jesus were able to do here on earth.

15. But I have written very boldly to you on some points, so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God,
 
16. to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, that my offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
NASB

We are to help end the horrible corruption of the world with all its violence, pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death being inflicted upon all living beings.
 
We are to eat only the plant foods that God created for us and commanded us to eat in Eden.
 
We are to remain true to God’s heavenly will here on earth as it is in heaven where there is no longer any pain, or suffering, or death.
 
We are to be the peacemaking children of God.
 
Join us on our Christmastime journey.
 
Amen.

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