#211 (11/12/05)
Christmas: When God Visited Earth Part II

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

With his get real and tell it like it is style, Phil McGraw has helped people create more positive and rewarding lives across the world. With his nationally syndicated show, Dr. Phil receiving the highest rating since the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Dr. Phil has become a household name in a family and human behavior. He’s the author of five New York Times number one best sellers. He’s just released his latest book, “Family First” as a call to action for families everywhere.

Special Music

" O Come, All Ye Faithful "
" Good Christians All Rejoice "

” And the Glory of the Lord ”

RENEE BONDI - "Baby Jesus Medley"
RENEE BONDI - "Blessed Assurance"
WINTLEY PHIPPS – “Go Tell it on the Mountain”

The Message

This Christmas season our message series is entitled: "Christmas - When God Visited Earth." Last week my father began with one of the great texts, from Isaiah 40:1, "Comfort My people says your God." I will continue with the text "Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3). As we prepare for Christmas, there are many things that need to be prepared. The prophet Isaiah said you have to level the mountains and fill the valleys. I don't think you have to go that far for Christmas; you don't have to make all the roads straight, as the prophet Isaiah says.

I think we do need to understand the purpose and the meaning of this statement, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." God is asking us to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christmas. When I think about preparing for Christmas I think about my to do list. I call it my honey list, in other words all the things my honey tells me I need to do before Christmas. That includes putting the lights on the house, putting the lights on the Christmas tree, and other things that need to be done around the house. Many of us have a long list of things we need to do, and sometimes we forget the most important thing of all, the thing God looks at most. He wants us to prepare ourselves, our relationships with others and most importantly, our relationship with Him. I can not think of anything that is more important!

It is hard for us to develop our relationships, especially during this time of the year. It is difficult, but some of the most important things we can do in preparation for Christmas, is to prepare ourselves, our relationship with God, and our relationship with others. If you are not right with yourself, you are going to have problems with others, and if you are not right with God, you will not be right with yourself. If you are not right with others, you are not going to be right with God.

All three relationships, with ourselves, with others, and with God are intertwined. What can we do this Christmas? We can give our baggage away and download resentment. Give away all the things that hold us back from experiencing the relationship that God wants us to have, with ourselves, with Him and with others.

Sometimes the resentments that people have are minor things. For example, this morning I met one of my nieces here at Church. I have nicknames for a lot of my nieces, things that make them feel good. So, I call this particular niece my favorite oldest Penner niece, because her last name is Penner, and she happens to be the oldest, which means that name is unique to her. So I said to her, "how is my favorite oldest Penner niece this morning?" She looked at me and she said "I'm not old!" She happens to be 14 years old. I said to her, "well, how old is old?" She thought for a moment and she said "30!" I replied, "then what does that make Grandpa?" She replied, "ancient!"

It's easy for us to resent minor things, such as people remarking about our age; yet, we realize there are things that are far more serious than that.

This past week I listened to the interview that Tim Russert did with Susan St. James. She lost her son in a terrible plane accident, and her husband is in the hospital. You might remember Susan St. James as an Emmy award winning actress. Tim Russert asked her about resentment, and she showed a beautiful spirit by replying, "Resentment, there's no room for resentment." She continued, "Resentment is like drinking a poison and hoping that somebody else will die". Incredible thought isn't it? Susan St. James says there is no room for resentment in this world today. That is what the Christmas Spirit is all about.

Today it is our responsibility as we prepare for Christmas, to get rid of the baggage, the resentment, the hatred, the things that hold us back from experiencing the peace, and the joy and the love that defines Christmas.

I have heard a story of a milkman, name Don, who had a milk route here in California in 1963. One day he was delivering milk to a customer named Shirley. Shirley noticed that Don was upset so she asked him about it. Apparently the milkman had another customer on the route who owed money on her account. Don had extended credit to her and her family because her husband needed to find a second job to meet their financial needs. She promised to pay him as soon as her husband found a second job. One day, Don went there to make a delivery and the house was empty, they had moved away and there was no forwarding address, and Don was stuck with the milk bill for the money that was owned to him. He was very upset and resentful that this family had up and left without paying their bill, and that he would be stuck with paying the bill. After explaining all of this to Shirley, she had a suggestion. She told Don to give a Christmas gift. Shirley told him, "I want you to think about, and pray about giving a Christmas gift to that family. The Christmas gift you should give them is the invoice that they never have received and they never will receive. You need to give her and her family a Christmas gift - give them the gift of that milk."

After contemplating and thinking about this for several weeks, Don decided to do just that. About a week before Christmas he was delivering milk to Shirley and he was smiling and very happy. He explained to Shirley, "I gave the Christmas gift - I have taken care of that milk bill." And, he said, "I have to tell you what happened. I was delivering milk for a co-worker on his route and you won't believe who I saw! I was leaving a house and all of a sudden I looked behind me and there was a lady running after me. I looked around and it was the woman who had moved away without paying her bill!" The woman said, "My husband got a second job and we had to leave in a hurry and here I have $20 for you!" Well, Don couldn't take her money and he told her he had already given her the gift of the milk. He told her, "I gave that to you and your children, I can't take your money." And with that tears flowed down her face, and they hugged and he and said, "that was the most beautiful Christmas gift I've ever given to anybody!"

How do we prepare for Christmas? When God visits earth, we give.

There's a poem called "The Stork." I don't know who wrote it, it's anonymous. It goes like this:

"When Christ was born on Christmas day, the birds and the beast knelt down to pray. And in wonder all adorning kneeled, the oxen in his stall, the fox in the field, while badger and bear, and each wild thing flocked around the manger, where slept a king, housed in a stable at Bethlehem. And the long legged stork was there with them, with her feathers white, her crest held high, and all in her bright compassionate eye. Alas warned she, how poor his bed, who ruled the universe over head. The cozily curled sleep on my breed, the Lord of the world lies hard indeed, un-pillowed is he who should wear a crown then out of her bosom, she plucked the down, the plums from her breast, she tugged and tore, that the child should rest like a beggar no more, but fine on a pallet, fit for a prince. And blessed has the stork been, ever since."

The stork gave. The milkman gave. Susan St. James gave. Today I want to ask you to give. God has called us to give. The gift He wants us to give Him this Christmas is called resentment. It is called anger. It is called bitterness, it's called anything that keeps us from experiencing and enjoying and receiving His gift, the gift of His peace, the gift of His love, and the gift of His joy. It is time to accept the privilege of giving away your anger, resentment and bitterness. Let it go. Let God come and touch you today. Don't let anyone; don't let anything rob you of Christmas this year.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that You come to bring hope, healing, joy, and to bring peace. We thank you for the gift of Christmas and the incredible gift of You coming into this world, coming to earth, to touch our lives, to touch our minds, to touch our hearts and souls with Your presence, with Your reality, with Your goodness. Now open our eyes oh Lord, and remove anything that keeps us from experiencing You, we give it all to You right now. Amen.

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