Charlie Brown’s search for the true meaning of Christmas leads him in many directions. What he’s looking for is something that will make him happy, but it goes beyond happiness. Charlie Brown is looking for joy and contentment, something that will not just fill his Christmas but his entire life.
Q: How happy is Snoopy?
What does Snoopy do to get in the Christmas spirit?
We set up lights on the house, shine them with LED projections. Decorate the door, put up a manger…
Why was Snoopy decorating his dog house?
THINGS WE TURN TO FOR HOLIDAY HAPPINESS:
Decorating, Dining and Dancing
DECORATION: Attention and approval of others.
Look at all the pretty lights. Look at the house down the street. You could land a plane in some neighborhoods. Lights, music, synchronized displays. Snoop when all out on his décor and when asked what it was all about, Charlie was handed a sheet of paper explaining the contest with big cash prizes. Awards, pats on the back we all love to be acknowledged for our achievements. But those awards gather dust. It will make you feel good for awhile. Then just like that it’s all gone.
If decorating doesn’t work some celebrate by dinning and drinking.
For some Christmas is about dining.
Food, Food, and more food. Cookies, cake, candy, turkey, pies, and pastries.
What is your favorite Christmas dish?
What are the consequences of over eating all the sweets?
Eggnog, hot chocolate, and apple cider.
If the highlight of your Christmas is about eating than you will have to pay the price come January.
Food doesn’t satisfy either and so we turn to another means of finding happiness –
DISTRACTION. We also turn to entertainment during this season to find happiness.
Some people are already in line to get into the new Star Wars movie but the force won’t stay with them for long. Eventually there will have to be another movie, another concert, another game, another “dance” in order to stay happy. The entertainment of the world doesn’t bring lasting happiness so the search goes on.
If we look to these things or anything in this world to bring us lasting joy – we will be let down. Decorations, dining and distractions and the happiness they bring don’t last.
The pleasures they provide are temporary and tied into what’s happening around us and they don’t bring abiding joy.
Snoopy offers Charlie Brown happiness, but Charlie Brown is looking for something more and something that will last, something that will endure and actually help him when times get tough.
What Charlie Brown needs and what we need, IS JOY.
REJOICE. It is a command given to us over and over again in the Bible and yes it is a command.
Rejoice Always. 1 Thessalonians. 5:16.
God is commanding us to be joyful – it’s not a suggestion. It doesn’t read try joy, or might I suggest you be joyful – it says, Rejoice – Be Joyful. Because it is a command, joy must be possible for us at all times because God is not going to tell us to do something that can’t be done. Certainly God is not going command us over 300 times to be joyful if joy were not a possibility for us. If joy is possible at all times then it cannot be tied to what is happening around us, it must come from someplace else.
James 1:2-3 says, consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Joy is what carries us through those tough times because joy is the understanding, conviction and certainty that God is in control and that God is with us.
Psalm 5:11-12. Let all who take refuge in God rejoice.
So what does it mean to take refuge in God so that we can find this joy?
Taking refuge in God means that we follow Jesus and abide or remain in him.
Jesus said, I am the vine and you are the branch, remain in me and I will remain in you.
When we remain in Jesus, when we give ourselves to him and strive to walk with him each and every day we are taking refuge in God and the joy will come.
Because joy is one of the fruits of God’s spirit we know it will develop and remain in us as we allow the Spirit of God to dwell in us.
So we experience joy not by turning to the things of this world, or even turning to ourselves but in daily turning to God to receive God’s love.
For many of us, this is where the problem comes; it is hard for us to trust that God really loves us.
It is hard for us to place our lives fully in God’s hands when we keep wondering how God can love a sinner like me.
We can see God’s love for others.
We can see God reaching out and caring for those around us, but many of us still question whether or not God can love me with all my doubts and problems and sin. I’m not sure what we can do to increase our understanding of God’s love for us because the word of God can’t be any clearer.
God says to us over and over again how much he loves us so I’m not sure we can do anything to make that clearer, maybe what we need is to just hear that message more often.
The first people who heard about the birth of Jesus were a group of shepherds on the hillsides of Bethlehem. The angel told them, Fear not for behold I bring you good news of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Now shepherds were not the most respected group of people.
They weren’t the most religious, faithful, or trustworthy but they were the first to hear this good news of great joy. And the angels didn’t tell them they had to clean up their act before they could go and find the babe lying in a manger.
This means that...
WE CAN ALL COME TO GOD JUST THE WAY WE ARE.
God doesn’t require us to change before He will love us, He loves us first and then allows His love to change us and fill us with joy.
GOD’S LOVE FOR US IS UNCONDITIONAL which means that we can rejoice always or as the Psalmist says it, we can ever sing for joy. Because of God’s love for us we can experience joy at all times and in all places.
GOD’S LOVE DOESN’T DEPEND ON THINGS GOING WELL OR ON US DOING WELL, it is always available which means joy can be experienced in all circumstances. Even when we are in trouble and in danger, God is there to bring us joy,
look at Psalm 5:11b.
Spread your protection over them that those who love your name may rejoice in you. God doesn’t keep us from experiencing pain in lives – we will all go through hardships and suffering, but when we do, God’s protection, or presence, is there so that even during those times we can experience joy. The joy in these moments comes from knowing that God is with us and that his strength and power and the power of his love will see us through.
Q- So what’s holding you back from experience the joy God has to offer?
Q- What’s keeping you from being content and causing you to keep searching for something to make you happy?
During this hectic season of the year, don’t look for joy in decorations, dining and dancing, don’t look for joy in any of the things of this world, look for it in God’s unconditional love and take refuge in him.
WHAT NOW: 5 days to be Content challenge.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Q- Where do you look for happiness during the Christmas season? What things destroy this happiness?
God commands us to rejoice which means joy is not based in our circumstances or situations.
Q- Where can you find joy?
Read Psalm 5
What does it mean for you to take “refuge” in God?
In what areas of life do you need to follow Jesus more closely?
Jesus said he is the vine and we are the branches. How can you stay connected to Jesus this week and draw your life from him?
Joy also comes in knowing that we are unconditionally loved by God.
Read the following Scriptures then talk to God about His love for us.
In what areas of your life do you need God’s love and protection to spread over you?
DO: Ask God for that help today.
Joy is also found in giving ourselves away.
Find a way to do an act of service during this season.
Based on a message from Faith Church and re-imagined by Pastor Matt.
What are you hoping for this Christmas? What’s on your Christmas list? Me, if I could have anything, like I mean ANYTHING, a helicopter would do fine. Imagine going to work without getting snarled in traffic. Perhaps a stealth car that drives slightly out of sync with our current detention. As a kid I wanted a robot toy back in the early 70s. Trains, walky-talkies, Hot wheels, action figures, anything start wars. What did you want as a kid? What gift is it that you just have to have in order for your life to be complete and for you to finally be at peace?
When we get older the gifts we often hope for can’t be bought from amazon.
Through the years what we hope for changes. We still long for gifts that we think will bring us peace.
What Charlie Brown hoped for was something to help bring his life a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Sally had an extensive Christmas list. There were so many items on her list that she decided to make it easy on Santa and just ask for money.
HER HOPE AND HEART WAS SET ON MATERIAL GOODS.
Her expectation and desire was for cold hard cash, she thought would bring her peace.
Today if we are looking for something that will bring us peace, we have a choice.
1- WE CAN LOOK TO THE MATERIAL GOODS AND WEALTH.
2- WE CAN LOOK TO GOD FOR PEACE.
Sally was a young girl who looked for peace in the world.
Mary was a young girl who looked for peace in God.
She dreamed of marrying a honest God fearing man and having lots of children because these were signs of God’s blessing Like all good mothers she dreamed that her children would grow up to have a life blessed by God and a life that would be a blessing to others. These were all things Mary would have hoped for and these were the things that would bring her life true and lasting peace and like most girls she would have thought these things would all come through the normal channels of life like a husband and marriage, but then Mary had a visit from an angel.
OPEN YOUR BIBLE TO: Luke 1:26-38.
Suddenly Mary is faced with a choice. Would she place her hope for a child, and the hope she had for that child, in herself and trust in her upcoming marriage to Joseph or would she place her hope and trust in God?
MARY TRUSTED GOD TO HELP HER FIND TRUE PEACE.
Q- If we are looking for peace, where will we turn and what will we trust?
Q- Will we trust the material goods of the world to make us complete?
Q- Will we trust the things that make sense to us and the things that don’t bring any risk or will we look for peace in God?
TO FIND PEACE IN GOD MEANS WE HAVE TO COMMIT OURSELVES COMPLETELY TO GOD, and say like Mary, Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word. Mary surrenders herself fully to God and places herself completely in God’s hands and that is the only way to find true peace. To find peace today we have to submit ourselves to God and submission is a totally commitment. Surrendering to God in order to find peace doesn’t mean that everything is going to run smoothly.
Think again about Mary; engaged to be married, but now pregnant by God.
Q- What will Joseph say?
Q- What will the people in the community say?
When it was time for her to give birth they had to take a journey –
when they got to Bethlehem there was no place for them to stay –
when the baby arrived all they had was a manger.
but because she was fully surrendered to God and trusted him, she was able to remain strong. Mary wasn’t looking to things of this world to bring her peace and comfort;
she was placing all of her faith and trust in God.
PLACING OUR TRUST IN GOD MEANS GIVING ALL WE HAVE TO GOD AND THEN STICKING WITH GOD EVEN WHEN THINGS GET DIFFICULT.
OPEN YOUR BIBLE TO: Luke 1:46-55.
We can have peace like Mary when we believe three things.
God could not have done anything in Mary if she had said no.
those who will first bow down to him. James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord
and he will lift you up.
Today peace still comes from God but only when we are willing and able to say,
Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word.
In these days leading up to Christmas we need to surrender to God. Don’t look to the world to bring you peace and make you whole.
Turn to God,
Trust God and
Surrender to God
This the only path that leads to peace, a true and lasting peace that passes all understanding.
- Humble yourself before God in worship and prayer
- Think of others before yourself during the Christmas Celebration.
Q- Growing up, what gift did you think you just had to have in order for life to be complete?
Q- How long did the peace and fulfillment last?
Q- What gift do you want this year?
Q- Is it something that will bring true peace?
Read the story of Mary in Luke 1:26-56
Mary experienced true peace because she surrendered herself to God.
Q- What would complete surrender look like in your life?
Q- What area do you struggle to give to God?
Q- What can you do this Christmas to draw closer to God?
Peace for Mary came in knowing that:
- God knows us – Luke 1:48
Q- Do you find this scary or encouraging? Why?
Q- What hope and dream can you share with God?
- God will do great things in us – Luke 1:49
Q- What great thing has God already done in you?
Q- What great thing would you like God to do in you?
Q- What great thing can you do between now and Christmas? Prayer, Giving, Faith Sharing
- God will lift us up – Luke 1:52
Based on a message from Faith Church and re-imagined by Pastor Matt.