Grace Bible Church of Phoenix

Christmas Traditions

Preacher: Josh White | Dressed appropriately except for our worship leader Adam Scully that was up here in Ohio state church but that’s you know that’s a that’s a different subject but you know now that things giving is over and it is it is officially Christmas season. Yay summer you are a cheer you’re not quite sure how to respond to that and even maybe more than just it being Christmas season it is the season where all of us get to enjoy traditions this is the time of traditions how many of you maybe more so during this time of year than other times of the year how the traditions that you just you always look forward to the special events special occasions that you always have we definitely have that in the 12 years that we’ve lived here we’ve started to kind of fall into a nice routine a pattern this time of year in and always starts off by going out into the desert for Thanksgiving there are some crazy people in our church who go out to the desert for Thanksgiving and half of them are still there they’re the crazy ones not the ones that are here and we have we have turkey and stuff protégé mashed potatoes and stuffing out just out of the sky the sky is awesome this year we had trash can Turkey things to last patriot great there was Runner trash can Turkey if you’re interested about that you can talk to him about it anyway but then we have we have thanksgiving out in the desert and then the next day on Friday Kristen and the kids.

They put up all the Christmas decorations in the house I don’t but yeah they put of all the decorations the house and something else that we look I look forward to every year is a Christian will make this thing on usually on Friday or after Thanksgiving is called Middle next she makes it every year her mom did it she program still probably doesn’t today and it’s where you take you know Cheerios and corn checks and rice checks and and pretzels and you drizzle butter and salt and stuff all over it and then you bake it and then it basically becomes a forced meal that you consume throughout the entire day just kind of nibble on it so I always look forward to that Black Friday shopping how many of you did shopping this year a few of you I like shopping this day and age you just do this click and then someone delivered delivers at your house I like this kind of shopping you know the one tradition that I’m getting used to but I do not like is the 1st Saturday after everything’s giving I’m watching my beloved Michigan Wolverines lose to the Ohio State Buckeyes again on if I’m ever going to use to that but anyway but you know we have these traditions today and and it makes me think of when I was a kid you know I wonder if my children have grown up here in Arizona know have these things to look forward to and then but whenever I think of Christmas I think of growing up in Spokane Washington and every Christmas we did the same thing on Christmas Eve We drive down to the tri cities to Kennewick Washington where we go to church with my grandma and grandpa and we go to the exact same church and they had the be literally be exact same Christmassy program every year the only thing that was different were the people who were reading the passages of Scripture and every year we do that they would go home and my grandma would make this huge buffet for all of us to eat on Christmas Eve and then we would open up one present and then we’d go to sleep if we could sleep and then we wake up and we open up all of our other presents and I just I love that I look forward to it every year.

Traditions really abound this time of year and you’re probably even thinking of some things that are really special to you and traditions I think truly can make this time of year very special It gives us things to look forward to but if we’re not careful the tradition itself might take on a life of its own and really make us miss out on something that is more important and so today as we’re entering this time of traditions in time of Christmas season what I want to do is just make sure that we get our mindset right and we don’t miss out on the main reason for us celebrating the birth of Christ and you’re thinking wait a 2nd a Christmas sermon this early Well this isn’t necessarily a Christmas sermon yet but it is about how easy we as human beings will forget the meaning of something and so what we’re going to do is we’re going to look at a couple different parallel passages in the Gospels and we’re going to begin in merit Mark Chapter 2 this open your Bibles if you will to the book of Mark Chapter 2.

And just to prove this is in a Christmas sermon we’re going to the book of Mark the birth of Christ isn’t even recorded in there well at least not the typical Matthew and Luke passages.

I will have some Christmas sermons this year for sure Usually I was looking at my my past Christmas or by my pastor’s sermon series and I always kind of have a sermon series leading up to maybe the day before Christmas and so I don’t we get one Christmas sermon every year I told Christian this year that I’m probably going to have more than one Christmas sermon maybe even a few and she was like oh good finally So my wife approves of having Christmas service so we have some Christmas sermons this year so you’re welcome All right Mark Chapter 2. And we’re going to begin in verse 23 and as you’re getting to this passage what we’re seeing here is Jesus is having some interaction with some parachutes and it gives us really helps us to understand the meaning of Christ coming to earth and what that was all about when we apply it to what we’re going through in this season so Mark Chapter 2 we put this up on the screen Mark Chapter 2 beginning in verse 23 Mar 2223.

Says one south this he was going through the green fields and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the fairest seas were saying to him Look why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath. So here Jesus and His disciples are walking through the countryside they’re walking next to a grain field and they’re always kind of question you know where the where the ferrous he’s out with a kind of watching that they walking behind trying to catch Jesus in His disciples doing something wrong but what is the problem with what the disciples are doing they’re just picking grains of head has a grain and they’re eating it and so what is the problem with that something might say well wait a 2nd are they stealing you know this is somebody else’s grain field are they possibly stealing is that what the Farriss are talking about not at all in fact when Israel left the land of Egypt when they were going into the promised land the land of Canaan God gave them the law and part of the law he said Don’t glean everything don’t harvest everything in your fields from Leviticus 23 let me just read for you these couple verses.

Leviticus 2322 it says and when you reap the harvest of your land you shall not reap your field right up to its edge nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest you shall leave them for the poor or for the sojourner I am the LORD your God and so God said don’t harvest everything leave some for the poor and those who are traveling so this is kind of the original fast food take out the wheat that’s on the side of the road so what is the problem here why are the fairest he’s so upset Well the fairer sees just like all the Israelites were fanatically passionate about keeping the law and specifically the Sabbath the Sabbath was a very important day to them and the Sabbath began hopefully everyone knows this sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturdays right sometimes people just mistakenly think that Sunday is the Sabbath that was the Jewish Jewish Sabbath was sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday and there’s a few reasons why the fair season the Jews were very fanatical and very passionate about keeping the Sabbath us. A few reasons our God had a very unique relationship with the nation of Israel. If you’ve read scripture at all you realize that they had certain things certain covenants the did really distinguish them from the other nations of the world I’m God gave them this covenant of circumcision He also gave them certain dietary laws he also gave them the temple worship in the temple practices all of those things and he also gave them observing the Sabbath and that became a part of their national identity and so the nation of Israel can say we are a separate nation of all the nations on earth and God has chosen us to represent him to mankind and this is what really distinguishes us we don’t do any work on the Sabbath and so they went around and they tried to find people who did what they considered work and they persecute them.

On the 4th commandment in Deuteronomy talks about the this commandment let me just show you from Deuteronomy Chapter 5. Says observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy as the Lord your God commanded you 6 days you shall labor and do all your work but the 7th day is a Sabbath to the Lord and on and you shall do not do any work you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your live stock or the sojourner who is within your gates that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God brought you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day and so on this day they were to do no work and the fair seas being who they were obviously many generations before this took place here in the book of Matthew or in Mark they set out to despise him and to describe what exactly it means when God said don’t do any work and so what they did is they tried to decode and try to figure out what constitutes doing work and what is lawful and of political for living on the Sabbath and what they did is they came up with 39 different classifications of what was considered work and what you were not able to do on the Sabbath and I’m going to give you all 39 now I really am I going to talk to them really quickly and all of these are going to make sense but they go on about 4 or 5 different categories and so here are the 39 different creative activities that were prohibited by the Jews not God by the Jews they’re trying to figure out what constitutes work OK So this is what they said. When it came to making food things like that this is what they were not able to do on the Sabbath you could not plant plow reap gather thrash window sort grind sift need or bake you couldn’t do any of those things OK and when it came to making clothing and repairing clothing you couldn’t do that on the Sabbath which is interesting as I was starting as I thought it’s interesting that they have this commandment we today we don’t make our own garments we just go to the store and we buy them or we order them and someone delivers it to us and if they if they had a piece of garment that was torn to rip then they would obviously repair it themselves what do we do when something is ripped when we throw it away right or we just order more so this is kind of a different different society that they lived in but what they were not able to do on the Sabbath is they were not able to shear obviously will for the for the clothing scour or launder their clothes combine wool diets spin. Wrap it make 2 loops they couldn’t we couldn’t separate 2 threads you couldn’t tie they couldn’t untie they could not so and they could not take her right and when it came to making clothing or things out of leather they couldn’t do this they could trap slaughter skin cure or preserve leather smooth score or measured cutting and when it came to construction they couldn’t write erase a build demolish extinguish a fire light a fire a fire the finishing touches to a fire or transfer fire between domains so they couldn’t do any of those things on the Sabbath they couldn’t do any of those things there is one thing that they could do on the Sabbath which would be considered work and that is if someone’s life was in serious grave danger then they were allowed to save a person’s life on the sadness and so you look at this and you thought wow OK Were they going overboard with trying to figure out what God meant maybe but maybe not you know we come together on Sunday mornings What do we do we read the Word of God and we try to figure out what it says and we try to say OK now how can we apply this to our lives and so it’s not like we were wrong in trying to figure all this out but they really went to The Nth Degree in fact to kind of show how how how serious they took this let me give you an example of just one of these 39 OK we can probably do this for all 39 to give you one of these when it came to plowing the fields this is what the community said about this plowing included included in this prohibit. Is any preparation or improvement of land for agricultural use this includes dragging a chair legs in soft soil thereby unintentionally making furrows or pouring water on area bull land that is not saturated or making a hole in the soil would would also provide protection for a seed placed there from rain and runoff even if no seed is ever placed there the soil is now enhanced for the process of planting so they said on the Sabbath you can’t poke. Hold the dirt because it might lead to planting might lead to some kind of work and so you couldn’t do any of those things or at least that’s what the fairs he’s taught and said This is about the Sabbath and saw when the fairs he saw the disciples walking through the fields and they went down with their hand they plucked the grain they smushed it in their hands and then they picked out the kernel and ate that that was too much that was considered work in their eyes Ironically if someone would have just several hours before done the same thing and put the kernels on a piece of people they could’ve walked up bent over picked it up put in their mouth and that would not to be consider work and so the fairest sees they were they were going to catch Jesus they were going to catch his disciples they’re out to catch them they’re out to to prove that they’re not followers of the law but is this what God intended for the Sabbaths for us to decode everything in every little action that is and is not permissible is that God’s intention for giving them the law well in our passage here in Mark what Jesus does is he takes this opportunity to teach them the true meaning behind the Sabbath so let’s go ahead and will continue to March up to pick up in verse 25

and Jesus said to them Have you read what David did when he was in need and was hungry he and those who were with him how he entered the house of God in the time of Avatar the high priest and ate the bread of the Presence which it is not lawful for any but the priest to eat and also gave it to those who were with him and he said to them the Sabbath was made for man not man for the SES so the Son of Man is Lord even of the sadness. So Jesus reminds them of their great King David how on the Sabbath he went into the temple and he actually ate the bread that was only for the priest to eat and he did this on the Sabbath and to God to prove that to God punish King David for doing that of course not and so Jesus is teaching them what a 2nd listen to what the Sabbath is all about God did not give the Sabbath for man to celebrate he gave man the Sabbath to order his lives now what happens to a person if all they do is work for those of you who work and you like your job would you want to work 12 hour days 7 days a week no one no one better be raising their hands right now you sometimes it’s nice you feel very productive it’s a great accomplishment to be able to work and feel that kind of satisfaction but it would that be healthy if we work that much well absolutely not if you go back to the creation account we see that God is not just showing us what he did as he created the heavens and the earth but it given he really is giving us this pattern to live by Do we really think that God needed 6 days to create the heavens and the earth if he’s omnipotent and all powerful could he not have snapped his fingers if he has fingers and got his fingers and created the heavens and the earth just immediately simultaneously he could have done that but what he did is he’s revealing to us the process of creation in these 6 days and he says on the 7th day he rested did he rest because God got tired of course not but he did this as a way to show us how we should pattern our lives that we are living in these these vessels of clay and we need to slow down we need to remember the reason for everything.

So the Sabbath as Jesus said I hope that we need to understand this phrase the Sabbath was made for man not man for the South. God gave the Sabbath to us so that we can rest so that we can recuperate so that we can have time to take a break from all the things that we think are important and focus on what is truly important God did not create man so that they could worship one day and do nothing and the Pharaoh sees they really missed that

so Jesus kind of correcting them well what is the relevance what is this application for us well I think that during this time of year when we celebrate Christmas and we have all these fun things to do we need to realize they God did not send His Son Jesus Christ into the world so that we have a really wonderful holiday to celebrate all right there’s nothing wrong with that if we do but we need to understand why God sent His Son into the world and I want to put it in a kind of a harsh way so that we understand this God sent Jesus into the world so that you and I would not have to spend eternity in… paying for our sins

that’s why God said Jesus into the world one of the many reasons why he did

have you ever had a close call when you’re driving like all the sudden somebody swerves right in front of you or you’re driving down the road then you look up and you realize oh that person stopped a better slam on the brakes Well what happens right after you have a close call well you know your blood is pumping you’re you’re definitely alert and with any kind of distractions you have to kind of put those aside to say hey I’m doing something pretty important here I really need to pay attention to what I’m doing.

There are many reasons why God sent His Son into the world to fulfill prophecy to set up the future kingdom that’s going to happen someday but God sent Jesus into the world to save us from our sins that’s why he did this.

If God wouldn’t have sent Christ into the world then you and I right now would have no hope so as we celebrate Christmas let it be a reminder in some ways of the close call that all of us had with eternal punishment let’s not miss what Jesus did there well now what I want to do is I want to go to actually the same story but in the book of Matthew these these are parallel passages but in Matthew he adds a little bit more detail and he gives us a new phrase that I want to focus on.

Matthew Chapter 12 beginning in verse one

Matthew Chapter 12 beginning in verse one.

As he Chapter 12 beginning in verse one same story this is Matthew’s account

at that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath his disciples were hungry and they began to pluck heads of grains and to eat but when the ferrous he saw it they said to him Look your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath and he said to them why you have not had it why have you not read what David did when he was hungry and those who were with him how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of presents which is not lawful for him to eat nor for those who are with him but only for the priests or have you not read in the law how on the Sabbath the priest in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless I tell you something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means I desire mercy and not sacrifice you would not have condemned the guiltless for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath and so Jesus is teaching them here in the Matthew gospel he says this phrase I desire mercy and not sacrifice we’re going to look and see what that really means here but 1st what we have next in the story Jesus has an opportunity to put this into practice he has an opportunity to show mercy instead of obey the law to obey the south’s 1st 9 he went on from there and entered their synagogue and a man was there with a withered hand and they asked him Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him he said to them which one of you who has a sheep if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath will not take hold of it and lifted out of how much more value as a man than a sheep so it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath then he said to the man Stretch out your hand and the man Stretch it out and it was restored healthy like the other but the fairest use went out and conspired against him how to destroy. You know Jesus said earlier he said I desire mercy not sacrifice and I think there’s a lot more to that phrase than meets the eye during this time when Jesus is having this having this conversation with the Farriss there was active debate among the Judaism of the subject of personal sacrifice and the fairest is the religious leaders tried to make a point of seeing how much sacrifice they could make in order to keep the Sabbath holy in fact the Qumran community which is one of the more strict and very rigid groups within Judaism This is what they said about the sacrifices that you had to make in order to keep the whole Sabbath holy they said this No one should help an animal give birth on the Sabbath day and if he makes it fall into a well or a pit he should not take it out on the south again the reason for that is that’s the day that we make sacrifices to to honor God in the same document the community contends that even if a living man fell into water they were not to take him out by using a ladder or a rope or utensils I don’t know what they did if they just kind of left him until the next day he got away tells till Sunday and I’m sorry Saturday but they were really caught up in making these personal sacrifices in order to keep the Sabbath day free from work. Now about the healing of a man on Sabbath the ferrous these felt compelled to also make rules about what you were able to do to another person on the Sabbath and it had to boil down to this if someone’s life was not in grave danger and it was only a minor injury you could not heal or help that person on the Sabbath you had to wait till the next day so imagine someone’s bleeding and you know it’s obviously the life is not going to die if they can’t help you today but tomorrow 1st thing tomorrow we will help you then so that’s kind of how how seriously they took this in fact one rabbi called Rabbi show my he was so strict that he even is reported to say that you should not pray for the sick or visit them on the Sabbath since it conflicted with the day’s character as one marked with joy do you think he took out a little too far absolutely 100 percent they did and Jesus saying God is not wanting us to have sacrifices to him what he is desiring is mercy and so knowing the ferrous these thoughts about this and how passionately they felt about healing on the Sabbath Jesus does something to challenge the way that they think now this man’s withered hand is obviously not life threatening right his hand could have been withered for his entire life and he was able to grow to to be the age that he was and yet Jesus decides on this day on the Sabbath he was going to prove a point and so in verse 13 last verse up there it says then he said to them I am stretch out your hand and the man Stretch it out and it was restored healthy it like the other and I want you to just picture this kind of recreate this this this action in your mind and understand what Jesus did and did not do Jesus did not prepare any point meant for this man all right he didn’t lift anything. There is no physical exertion I’m Jesus part right what did Jesus do all he did was speak that’s all he did and look at how the fair sees respond actually this is the last verse up there but the Farriss went out and conspired against him how to destroy him because Jesus healed on the south he spoke and a man’s hand went from withered to restored the fair seas try to destroy Jesus they tried to kill Listen God did not send Jesus into the world so that he could be the best observer of the Sabbath he sent Jesus in the world to save sinners and to heal the sick and if he had an opportunity to do good on the Sabbath which Jesus said himself he was to do that what the fairest is did is they made the Sabbath ultimately about themselves and they used it as an opportunity to make themselves look holy and righteous in the eyes of everyone else their intentions for observing the Sabbath were to make them look good by one upping each other on the amount of sacrifice that they were willing to make to keep the Sabbath day holy But God tells us that he wants mercy not sacrifice if we are merciful to another person usually some kind of a sacrifice is going to take place whether that’s our time our our finances or our resources we can easily sacrifice something without having any mercy involved and we all know that’s true right when was the last time you sacrificed for another person and your heart wasn’t in it I mean that happens from time to time but if our heart is in it and we are truly being merciful to another person usually there is some kind of a sacrifice that is involved Well then how do we apply this to to our lives and especially this time of year. You know this is the time of year that I think that we should remember obviously what Jesus did for us he sacrificed himself but it was based on His mercy and His grace for us but Christmas can also be a time where a lot of us like to make sacrifices but what we do is we make sacrifices in order to show off to everyone else now we can do Christmas better than anyone else right if you are fallen into that trap it might involve making you maybe making sure that you buy the best and most expensive Christmas presents for other people and maybe not so that you get a good Christmas present in return but so that someone will think more highly of you wow this person made a great sacrifice for me so that I could have this great gift or maybe something like I used to have the best Christmas party or you big the best Christmas cookies and not that that’s wrong make as many Christmas cookies as you want that’s fine but sometimes we get into this idea of I’m going to go over and above and I’m going to make this great sacrifice so that other people can see how much love I’m putting into the Christmas season.

None of those things are wrong it’s OK for us to celebrate Christmas I think God wants us to do that to have to have great time to to enjoy spending time with each other it’s just that we shouldn’t get too caught up in it and and take away from the true meaning of what is going on this time of year this is a great time of year potentially for us who live in Phoenix this is the best time of year they think the weather is fantastic but hopefully by looking at these passages that are unrelated to Christmas they can really help us have this right mindset and the 1st thing that I think God wants us to do is this God wants us to remember why Jesus came in the 1st place God did not send his son in the world so that we have a holiday to celebrate God sent His Son in the world because everyone around us who does not have faith in him is going to spend eternity in…. Paying for their sins and so he sent his Son into the world so that we might have hope that’s why he sent his Son into the world let’s not forget that and we must share that message with the world around us and the 2nd thing I think we should get out of this is this God is more concerned with the mercy that we have for others than the sacrifices that we make he cares for in the heart in the in the in the mindset that we are dealing with one another so instead of us all focusing on the big to do list that we have for Christmas maybe all of us what we should really do is if we get into the season we should look for a person in our life who really needs to be shown mercy.

Do you know anyone in your life right now the needs God’s mercy more than they need sacrifice that’s what we should be looking for this this time of year and so let’s ask God to show us those opportunities and also the motivation to do to others as God has done to us let’s pray.

Dear Lord I thank you this time of year it is exciting we just love this time of year and it is it’s OK to get caught up in the celebration and the wonder of Christmas but father and as long as we understand truly what’s going on in why you sent your son Lord I pray that you’ll just put this sense of urgency in all of our hearts to realize especially for those of us who had the hope of salvation of most of our lives that we know that we’re going to spend eternity with you to realize that our friends and our family members that are out there celebrating Christmas and getting all caught up in this they missed the point they’re celebrating a holiday and they’re all excited about these things but they they’re they’re missing the point that Jesus had to be born to pay for their said Sin and some small way the order for able to share that truth so that it might penetrate someone’s mind someone’s heart so they understand the truth of the Gospel this give us those opportunities father and also Lord Jesus taught us that it is the jurors are looking more for mercy than for sacrifice and help us to look for opportunities to show mercy for people that are in need sometimes we just lavish gifts on our friends and our family and we join that but there are people that truly are in need of someone’s mercy and grace and so father if you want us to be like your Son Jesus Christ and help us to look for those opportunities Lord you reveal those to us help open our eyes so that we’re looking to the needs of others and not necessarily the needs of our own so Lord thank you that we’re able to celebrate this time of year these next few weeks so many get to appreciate the joy of the Christmas season but Lord help us to do so truly understanding its meaning and we thank you appreciate for that in Christ and we pray Amen.

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