It occurs to me this afternoon is we start the sermon that. I really liked the company. I mean, today, this is a unique time to have our service. And I think when you do that, sometimes, sometimes people don’t come because it’s just different. But of course she, you, you’re aware of the fact that we can meet any time on the Lord today.
And we’ve said it for one 32 a day. And here you are. And I’m glad to see. We have a good crowd. We have a lot of folks still who are visiting us, visiting family, and we’re so happy to, to come to be part of this special afternoon service. There’s an irony that exists during this holiday season. There are two different responses, I guess, to the fact that there’s happiness all around us during this time of year and on one side it.
It amplifies our happiness. There’s happiness around us, and so we want to be happy. And part of it too, the sermon is about the fact that there’s another side of that coin and those who are sad this time of year, the happiness that lives in this system, that this says this, a season has a way of amplifying that sadness.
I read an interesting statistic the other day that said suicides spike during this time of year. Now that doesn’t seem reasonable, does it? Everybody knows you should be happy at this time of year. Yes, but when it’s like that and you’re really not happy it’s pretty hard. And even in this church, we have people who have faced some serious struggles recently.
We have in this room, those who have. Lost loved ones. Only very recently, one man said to me this morning, you know, Christmas will be real hard. Yeah. This year cause he’s lost someone very precious to him. We have those who in this church have tasted the bitter cup of divorce and are still reeling from it.
It makes this time of year pretty hard. Those who have faced. Loss of position, loss of job, or maybe and maybe those who have other problems in their families. I know a number of the problems in extended families, things that I don’t know how we’re ever going to fix. Maybe problems with teenagers gone the wrong way.
The people for whom this time of year is very, very difficult. I did this sermon is for all of us because I want to encourage us to help others when we can and to be sensitive to the difficulties which people face and we need to be there to help them in every way. We can’t fix the problems also, but we could, we could at least encourage and try to help them.
And furthermore, I need the encouragement at least points. Here’s what we have to offer. Do we encourage those for whom this. Season is not so very pleasant.
Lean On God
In Philippians the fourth chapter, Paul writes about this. Listen to what he has to say.
Philippians chapter four beginning in verse six be careful or stretched out for nothing. But in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
It’s an old Testament principle as well as the new in Jeremiah chapter 10 and verse 23 the Bible says it’s not in man that walks to direct his own steps. I, I’ve got to lean on God. Have you ever thought about the fact that the Psalms. Are by and large written by David in a time of struggle with his enemies.
You can, you can just about randomly open up the book of Psalms and, and just pick one out at random and find this to be truth where where David is reaching out and leaning on God with his struggles. Here’s Psalm 31 for example, in the old Lord, do I put my trust? Let me never be ashamed. Deliver me a night righteousness.
Bow down by an ear to me, deliver me speedily, be down my strong rock or a house with defense to save me for thou art, my rock, and my fortress. Therefore, for thy name’s sake, lead me and guide me. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privilege for me, for thou art, my strength into Diane hand. I commit my spirit.
Dow has to redeem me, me, Lord, God of truth. I’ve hated them that regard. Lying vanities, but I trusted the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in nine mercy for thou has considered my trouble that was known my soul in adversities and has not shut me up into the hand of the enemy. Thou has set my feet in a large room, have mercy upon the old Lord.
For I am in trouble. Nine I is consumed with grief. Yay my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief and my years was sighing. My strength faileth because of mine iniquity and my bones are consumed. I was a reproach among all my enemies, but especially among my neighbors and a theater to mine acquaintance.
They that did see me without fled from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind, I am like a broken vessel. I have heard the slander of many fear was on every side while they took counsel together against me. They define, they devise to take away my life, but I trusted in the old Lord, I said, thou art my God.
My times are in die hand deliver me from the hand of mine enemies and from them that persecute me. Make that face to shine upon die, serve. It saved me for that mercy. Say you lean on the Lord. We talk about leaning on the Lord. When we faced last most bitter enigmas most difficult struggles we’ve got to do just that and that we lay our petitions before his throne and then with that, we talk to our Lord about this and lean on him and lean on our faith.
And first Peter five and eight we test all our tariff on him because he cares for us. May I suggest if you’re one of these people we’re talking about today, that you pour yourself into the work of the church? You see there’s a secret here. Anthony’s comes in serving others. Let me get involved in helping other people because that’s where I find content contentment.
Let me cultivate my friendships and the family of the church. Let me draw close to them because that’s where my strength is. Number one, lean on the Lord. Number two, make sure that you don’t allow yourself to fall into self-pity. It’s not easy to do you know if possible. Paul in second Corinthians chapter 12 was.
Faced with what he called a thorn in the flesh. Now, he prayed to God about this to have it removed, and you would think that the apostle Paul, he could perform miracles. He was an apostle. You think about what he wrote, two thirds of the new Testament, you would think surely the Lord would remove this thorn from him, this problem from him, but he didn’t.
Here’s what happened. Second Corinthians chapter 12 and verse seven Paul wrote in last, I should be exalted above measure. Through the abundance of the revelations that the words I’m going to pass off, I give these revelations. I have all of these things I do for the Lord. There was given unto me a thorn in the flesh.
I don’t know what the thorn was. We’re not told that some struggle he faces in his life, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure for this thing. I besought the Lord thrice. That it might depart from me. And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in weakness, most gladly.
Therefore, I will rather glory in mind infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. I will not allow myself to wallow in self pity. I can’t let that happen. I’ve got to grow past that. I lean on the Lord. I won’t be, I won’t allow myself to find self pity. Remember what Paul said in first Corinthians 10 and verse 13 there is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful who will not permit you to be tempted above that you are able, but will also with the temptation make a way of escape.
Remember to Be Thankful
I’ll remember to be thankful. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a direct correlation between happiness and thankfulness. Never forget it. I remember to be thankful. I’m thankful for my memories. You know what? I have such wonderful memories that I can pull out of my childhood, I suppose.
I suppose I have unhappy ones too. I don’t try and pull those out, but anywhere I am, I’ve been on the other side of the, of the globe, missing my family. Wish NAS back with them, but I’ve got the ability to see them in my mind. I think about my top and my granny and I think about my parents on both sides.
They, they, they’re long gone now, but anytime I want, I ain’t go back to my childhood and I can walk through those old houses and I can see them. If I use my imagination, I can just, it that smell, the smells that those old houses, I can hear their voice. I’m so thankful for my memory. It’s not uncommon for people and perhaps youth who lose loved ones.
And they’ll have dreams for some time thereafter, sometimes a long time thereafter, they’ll have a dream and they’re with that left when, again, hearing his goal with him. Aren’t you thankful for memories? Luke chapter 16 evidence says that I’ll be able to have my memories. After this life is over. It’ll be a torment to those who are lost, of course, but to those of us who are saved, the good memories surely will be wonderful.
I’m thankful. I have things to be thankful for this season and I’m thankful for my memories. I’m thankful for other people’s good or it shouldn’t happen. You know, just because, just because I don’t have the things others have doesn’t mean I can’t rejoice with the Romans 12 and verse 15 says, rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that we, it may be easier sometimes to do that.
Weep in part that it is the rejoicing art. I’m going to be thankful. I’m thankful for the happiness you have, and I share in that joy. I rejoice with you over that. Robin Mallory Baker. Live in Montgomery faithful Christians. They have a little girl named Emma. Emma is three this year and she has found a baby doll that she really wants to have and expect and showed her in the store.
She and her mama and Emma will go over and kiss that doll. And the other day, mama overheard Emma talking to that dog and she said. Yeah, you’re still in the store, but I’m your mama.
when they left the store, Emma waved at that baby a doll and said, see you soon. I see. My children are not little anymore. There was a time when I enjoyed those kinds of things and it was one by much or not, but I’m gonna take some, I rejoice in their children. I rejoice in their family. I rejoiced the theory, join those things in that if they don’t mind the fight, it doesn’t diminish from their joy for me to share.
It does it, and I enjoy your family. I enjoy your children. They’re wonderful. I can be thankful for the blessings. If I’ve lost my spouse, I can be thankful that you still have you. I can enjoy seeing the happiness in your eyes, enjoying each other. Just because I don’t have something doesn’t make, you know, enrollments one in 29 the Bible lists being full of envy in the same category with all full seasons like murder, fornication, and terrible is the scenes there that the Gentiles in which they participate in any includes being full of envy.
I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be a part of that. Instead, I want to rejoice in what you have. I can rejoice and enjoy the blessings that you have, even if I no longer enjoy them personally. I want to, I want to be thankful at this time of year. I’m thankful that I don’t have the problems that some others have.
Let me tell you, you know, this is true. No matter how difficult life becomes, there are people around you who suffer more difficult or hardships and you do in a few minutes when this service is over and we’ll get in my truck out there and I’m going to the hospital. There’s a family there from Manchester, Tennessee.
Their son has had a four Wheeler accident. He’s in ICU. You know what I, I say why I’ve got struggles. This sheet, it’s going to be a difficult year. Yeah, but I don’t have a son over there. You see what I’m saying? I’m not facing that kind of struggle right now. I have so much to be thankful for. Number one, I’m going to lean on the Lord.
I’m a Christian after all, and I know how to act like it. Number two, I’m not going to allow myself to wallow in self pity. That won’t accomplish anything. Get along the hurt me. Number three, I’m going to remember to be thankful because thankfulness and happiness are directly connected. And number four, I’m going to remember that contentment isn’t the exclusive property of those who are blessed in their circumstances.
My contentment will not hinge on whether or not I have pleasant circumstances always around me. You know? That’d be a terrible thing. If I’m only continuing, if I only have this inner happiness when everything’s going my way, then my happiness is going to really fluctuate dramatically. I don’t want to be like that.
You remember what Paul said over in Philippians chapter four I want to read to you beginning in verse seven Philippians chapter four beginning in verse seven this will be familiar to you.
Let’s drop down to 11 Philippians four verse 11 Paul said, this. Not that I speak in respective what I have learned and what show ever stayed on. I am there with to be content. I know how to be a base and how to abound everywhere and in all things. I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Now watch verse 13 because this is the key, and if you don’t need it today, you’re going to need it one day. We all will. I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me. It’s like how can you maintain a contentment even in times of struggle because of Christ? My faith means something. It’s not I’m, I’m a part of the body of Christ.
It’s not a social club thing with me. It’s a real thing. I have faith in Christ Jesus. I live my life as a Christian and when times get hard, that’s when my Christianity must really show.
Contentment in Christ doesn’t fluctuate with the conditions around me. I know how to abound and I know how to suffer need , but I’m going to be content because I’m in the Lord. Here’s the fifth and final one. I’m going to remember that I’ve got a purpose in life. I’ve got to remember that I’m here for a reason.
Now. Now of course, this is, this is in two senses. There’s the broad sense of which all of us have a purpose in life, to go to heaven, to glorify our Lord with our lives, and ultimately to go to heaven. So Paul says in Philippians chapter three in about verse 13 he said, I count not my shift with apprehended, and I’m not finished yet, but this much I do for getting the things which are behind and pulling.
And wait a minute, wait a minute. You got a lot to forget back there. That’s right. But I can’t hold onto those things. I’ve got a, I’ve got to go forward for getting the things which are behind and reaching for us to the things which are, before I press toward the Mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Look, you have a purpose and that purpose is glorifying God with your life and going to heaven when you die, but you’ve got another purpose to follow me on this. I believe that God has individual purposes for us too. Not just the broad purpose, which he is to to glorify God, go to heaven, but individual purposes.
I say that because you and I, all, all of us have God given abilities that other people don’t have. You have talents and abilities, which are characteristic of you that are not characteristic of everybody. And where’d you get them? God gave them to me. God gave, God gave me these talents, whatever they happen to be, and we’re all very diverse in that.
I submit to you that that implies that God has a special purpose for your life. What did he give you and how are you using Ziad? I can never give up on the fact that I’ve got a purpose in life. I’m here for a reason, not expect something off me. What is that purpose? We’ll find out what scale, what talent he gave you, and then you’ll know the answer to your question.
Use what you’ve got to his glory cause you’ve got a purpose.
It’s really ironic that the joy of a season in which we are not involved. Amplifies the joy in some people and amplifies the grief and others. We understand that life can be very difficult, and for some people today, it is very difficult, but we’re Christians we’re not, we’re not in this just by ourselves.
You know, we’re in a family and I’m thankful for that God could’ve put us as Christians isolated. Living through this life by ourselves, but he didn’t. He put us in a group called it the church. We’ve got a family, people who love God, people who love us. Thank God for that. It’s a way back, which even in the difficult times of life I can say, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he will keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want what? Is there someone here who wants to become a Christian? No, it’s been so very good. Said even at the times of struggle, that is still true. You know that God’s good to us and maybe you’ve made up your mind that you want to obey the gospel, repent of your sins, and confess his name today, and you could be immersed for the remission of your sins.