Tonight which is Christmas Eve we light the center candle which is the Christ Candle. Over the last four weeks as we have journey together through the advent season we have lite the candles of Hope which reminds us that Christ is coming to fulfill God’s promise. The candle of Peace and through Christ we found Peace. The third week was the candle of Joy which reminds us when the Angel’s told the Shepherd the good news of the birth of the Christ child lying in a manger this morning we lite the fourth candle which is the candle of love, as we remember from the Gospel of John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. When we look beyond the ornately-adorned Christmas trees and beneath the countless layers of wrapping paper, we are reminded of the true reason we celebrate this time of year. We are reminded of the birth of a promise — a promise that offers to heal the past and light the way for the future and a promise that offers purpose for living. We are reminded of the birth of a Savior who promises eternal hope, joy, peace and good news to the world.
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not ne afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of their parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Zechariah asked the angel, How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years. The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not be able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time. Luke 1:5-20
In Biblical times it was a disappointed for a woman not to have her own children and for others to look down upon Elizabeth because she was barred. However, little did they know of or anyone else know the plan that was in place by God. The child that was to be born to Elizabeth and Zechariah called John was to be the one chosen to prepared God’s people for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even through they had no children they never doubt that somehow or someway that God would bless them, and that God was the one true God, “The Great I Am” that was told by Moses, and by other prophets. Can you even try to imagine the joy that was in Elizabeth’s heart when she came to realize that she was with child even pass the child bearing years. Jesus’ own words to his disciples later in his life would be, “With man this is impossible, but not with God, all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) Because regardless of your situation in your life right now at this very moment, all things are possible with God.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will but born of God. John 1:6-13
As we go through difficult times in our own lives, we sometime wonder who were are, at times people and even ourselves put labels on us such as: victim, depress, no good, failure, impossible, strange, addict, I don’t matter, being angry, unforgiveable, anxious ,rejected, weak, refugee, empty, too many regrets and I am sure many of us can even think of more names that are NOT true.
Jesus’ light shines on each and every one of you continually, whether you are aware of it or not. During the wee hours of the night, your thoughts can be distorted. Although you may feel as if you’re enveloped in the darkness, remember that darkness and light are alike to him. You need the light of Jesus more than you need the light of the day. When the way before you seems dark and threatening, you can still trust him to guide you. Walking by faith is important for all to discern the way you should go. Instead of trying to see through clouds of uncertainty fix you eyes on Jesus. He can and will show you a way forward where there appears to be none. As you strive to stay in communication with Jesus thru prayers your soul will begin to open to the Creator of the Universe the “Great I Am” and even in the midst of your dark days you will come to know just who you are “JESUS BELOVED CHILD” you do matter!
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is preparing his disciples of things that were about to happen to him with being handing over to sinners and then crucified. Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you: Where I am going, you cannot come. ” A new command I give you, Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:31-35
Why is that adults simply cannot love others they way they seem to love themselves, at times they look to another with such hatred. Adults just seem to judge someone because of someone’s race, age, being rich or poor, the color of their eyes, how smart they are and believe me the list of the judgement seems to go on and on for way too long, all because someone is different from themselves. Hasn’t anyone ever notice that God created us in His image but not to look the same as someone else. If you think back when you were a child did it matter at all what another child look like, how rich or poor they may be, or did you simply look at the other child and think to yourself how you would like to have a playmate to play with, if you answer is yes like most of us would answer, then tell me what happen in between being a child and becoming an adult they too many times we seem to have hatred in our hearts all because someone is different from us.
God is love, that is why when you read in John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son (Jesus) into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
Jesus was without sin, a man who had no home to call his own, and what he had done was always good for another human being and even dying on the cross, why so we as sinners will not perish after leaving this earth, but that we will be reunited with our Heavenly Father for all of eternity. And what did he seem to do with anyone who was a little difference he simply love them.
You have heard that it was said Love your neighbor and hate your enemy., But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44 Is it ever easy to love your enemy no it is not, and if it was everyone would do it and they don’t. What is a Christian–it is someone who is a follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ so if we call ourselves a Christian shouldn’t we love all people, just as Jesus would. This is why as Christian we need to have a walk with Christ, to help us to love all, in order for any of us to do the will of the Father we need to have a walk with the Son. In the book of Ephesians chapter 6 Paul tells us to put on the Full Armor of God because our struggles is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the power of this dark world. You need to understand that is satan w wants to destroy this world, to destroy families, friendship anyway he can. For you and me Paul tells us to Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions. So put down any hatred you have in your heart for anyone and put on the heart of love and compassion for another one of God’s beautiful creation.
As well read in the gospel of Mark 1:16-20 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. “Come follow me, ” Jesus said, and I will send you out to fish for people. At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little father, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Jesus knows that we are all a work in progress, however even thro we are, he is calling all of us to follow him. Are you willing to give up all the earthly pleasure and to say yes to Christ to do what he has ask you to do. It will not be an easy choice my friends however I can say that it will be the best choice that anyone will ever make. Once you decided to follow him you will never regret the choice you have made, because it is the right one. The disciples truly didn’t have to think about what Jesus was telling them was to “Come and follow me.” As Christian we are the disciples of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ and we all are called to make disciples for his kingdom. How can you do it believe me it is not hard at all, first you need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior if you have not already, and if you did Praise His Name, begin seeking out a church so that you are able to grow and learn spiritually. Attend a Bible study and begin reading a Bible and if you don’t have one I know that the church you are attending will be more than willing to give a Bible to you. Begin spending time alone with your Heavenly Father he has so much to share with you and he has been waiting a long time for you to come to him with a willing heart (that is all it takes) This world is only our temporary home, however your home for all of eternally will be with our Lord Jesus Christ, however in the meantime you and I have much needed work that he has called us to do. Are you willing to follow, are you will to say yes Jesus I am willing to follow you for today and always.
Be patience, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. (James 5:7)
Having patience is never easy however, on this Holy Saturday the day before Easter we sit and wait for Easter Sunday for we know that when the new day we know the good news of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But let us think back to more than two thousand years ago as all of Jesus’ disciples fear for their own lives they hid for the did not know what a new day would bring to them, would others seek to find them and also try to kill them as they did Jesus. Jesus did tell his disciples what would happen, as we look back into the Gospel of John 16:16-18 “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another” What does he mean by saying. ‘ In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me, and Because I am going to the Father?” They kept asking, “What does he mean a ‘little while’ We don’t understand what he is saying.”
Jesus was explain that they will grief because of his crucifixion, then their grief will turn to joy when they see him once again. Death could not hold him, for “He Lives” and even thro today we may be upset for the death of our Lord tomorrow our grief will turn to joy, for his tomb will be empty. Praise His Name for Ever and Ever because He Lives we can face tomorrow.
As they were going out, they met a man Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charged against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS, MATTHEW 27:32-37
SEVEN LAST WORDS OF JESUS Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, alone with the criminals-one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:33-34 In spite of Jesus being beaten and tortured he stilled ask God to forgive them at that time as well as us today
“TRULY I TELL YOU, TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE”
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!.” But the other criminal rebuked him, “Don’t you fear God,” he said. “since you are under the same sentence” We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man had done nothing wrong. Then he said ,” Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:39-43 As I read this words from the book of Luke today I think to myself, for the sins I also have committed in my own life in the past and the future, I doo not get rightly punish and the reason is that my Lord and Savior took my place on the cross on this day many years ago.
In the Gospel of John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her “Woman, here is your son, and to the disciple, “Here is your mother” From that time on, the disciple took her into his home.
I could not even image what Mary felt within her soul as you watch her son who was innocent being crucified. Being a mom myself of a son I could never imaged watching my own son in the same place Jesus was, and yet Mary watch, at the child she once carried in a womb, of the child she held in her arms she watches as he has the weight of all the sins of the world on his shoulder, and yet Jesus does this for Y-O-U and for M-E because his love is that deep. From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice,”Eli, Eli. lema, sabachthani? ( which means, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”)
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ” I am thirsty”. A jar of wine vinegar was there so they sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant and lifted to Jesus lips, When he had finished the drink, Jesus said: Then Jesus called with a loud voice “FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS, I COMMIT MY SPIRIT”, When he had said this he breathed his last breath. At that very moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top to bottom. The earth shook, the rock split, and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tomb went into the holy city appeared to many. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ” Surely he was the Son of God .”