Notes From an old Preacher’s Bible

Sermon notes and outlines


One of the words that many modern Bible translations leave out is that little 3-letter word “now”. It is found 1,356 times in the King James Bible. And none as significant as the very first word in God’s telling of the real Christmas story in Matthew 1:18:“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise…”

Human nature being what it is, man just was not satisfied with the Christmas story and began to add to and change it.

Man’s earliest feeble attempts to embellish this already sufficiently beautiful message came in the early days of the church age. A loveable parish priest, Nicholas was particularly fond of children and always had candy and treats for them. In Holland it was said that St. Nicholas came back every Dec. 6, riding a white horse and putting candy in children’s shoes. The Dutch brought him to the U.S.A. as “Sinter Klaus”. (And Americans found you can get more candy in stocking than in a shoe!)

The pagans decorated trees in their yards but it was not until the 1540’s that Martin Luther brought them indoors as a part of the Christian tradition. Later the British introduced the holly to the Christmas scene. The spirits who inhabited the forest were able to hide in it. Being brought in out of the cold, they had good will towards those who so provided for them. But it was unlucky to bring it inside before December 24.

Gift giving at Christmas was brought over from Roman paganism in the 3rd and 4th centuries. But the giving of Christmas cards was not introduced until 1846. Christians refused to use them until the early 1900’s.

The poem by Clement Moore in 1822 enhanced what some have called “the Santa myth” even more. It was not until then that we found out that Santa was just a tiny elf, small enough to navigate a chimney. He even gave us the names of his reindeer. Credit Coca Cola’s advertising campaign early in the 1900s with bringing Santa to the life-size one we know today.

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer was added to the tradition in 1939 by the Montgomery Ward department store. His image only grew when Gene Autry re-introduced him with the now popular song in 1949.

Then came Frosty the Snowman in the 50’s, later joined by Mrs. Frosty and made famous by Burl Ives, Jimmy Durante and others. About this time ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ was added to the story of the Wise Men. But it was not until the civil-rights movement of the 60’s did one of the three Wise Men become black!

And now comes the Grinch! What will they add next in their attempt to embellish the simplicity of the really Good News?

I am going to enjoy all the cultural traditions of this season. I might even go disguised as Bubba Claus from the South Pole and act like the kid that still lives in this old man’s body.

But I do not want to forget that the message the angels proclaimed that night in Bethlehem is as up-to-date NOW as it was then. It is still a message of JOY and PEACE. And in the midst of a materialistic society let us not neglect the giving of thanks for that Son of God, born in a stable so many centuries ago. The REAL Christmas message that they declared is that the God Who created the universe “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son!”

God’s Son born in Bethlehem is still the King of kings and Lord of lords!

The only people who got what they asked Jesus for were those who came in desperation!

Matt. 8:5, 10 Centurion whose servant was paralyzed

Matt. 9:27 Two blind men

Matt. 14:22ff Peter on sea, began to sink

Matt. 15:22ff Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon possessed

Matt. 17:14ff Man whose son was afflicted, disciples couldn’t help

Mark 1:40ff Leper who came “kneeling…beseeching”

Mark 2:1-12 Lame man whose friends tore open a roof to get him to Jesus

Mark 3:7-12 “thronged” … “pressed upon” Him

Mark 4:35 Disciples who were caught in storm on the sea

Luke 4:38ff Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick

Luke 7:36 Sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet

Luke 17:11 Ten lepers

Luke 18:34ff Blind man in Jericho

John 4:46ff Nobleman with the sick son

John 11 Lazarus’ sisters

Matt. 19:16ff Only one who came with a “take it or leave it” attitude was the “Rich young ruler” and he went away sorrowful and unfulfilled.


1 Comment

  1. How wonderful! I will spend some time on this blog. This one on Desperation is great. I’ve been there and done that many times and am here to say that you are 100% right…God gave and still gives me what I ask for in my moment of
    desperation. Thank you for sharing your sermon notes etc. with us, Ruthie

    Comment by Ruthie — January 18, 2008 @ 4:46 am

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