God’s Peace: The Antidote To Holiday Stress

Series: Seasonal Attitudes To Have All Year Long

Topic: Peace

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

We have been looking at seasonal attitudes to have all year long. First, there’s contentment, which is vital in a season where overspending is easy to do. Second, we looked at being thankful, especially how it can be a catalyst to our spiritual growth. Another attitude that we need to seek during the busy and hectic holidays is that of peace. Why peace? Because peace is the antidote to the holiday stress that we run into.

 

A woman was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before.

 

Her arms were full of bulky packages when an elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load.

 

As the doors closed, she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!”

 

A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement.

 

Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator, came a single voice that said: “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.” 

 

(Homiletics, vol. 18 [November–December 2006] qtd. in Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, 1001 Illustrations That Connect [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008], 372–373)

 

What stresses you out during the holiday season? Trying to find the perfect present? Having all sorts of family in close quarters? Events and parties to attend? For me it is the stress of seeing Christmas commercialized. I really hate how materialism has so engulfed Christmas that the real reason for the season is marginalized even in the lives of Christians.

 

How can we have peace that overcomes our stress? First, you need peace with God and then you need peace from God.

 

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Thankfully Letting Jesus Have His Way In Your Life—Colossians 3:15-17

Series: Seasonal Attitudes To Have All Year Long

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

This Thanksgiving and Christmas season we are looking at several attitudes that Christians should have, and have all year long. That’s why I’m coming this series: “Seasonal Attitudes To Have All Year Long.” The attitudes that we’re looking at are ones that we need to remember especially during the holidays. We looked at contentment last time, which is going to be extremely important for some people on Black Friday! 

 

This time we’re going to pick up the attitude of being thankful, especially as it has to do with living out the Christian life. In Colossians 3:12-17, the apostle Paul describes the life of the new man that every Christian is supposed to put on.

 

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:12–17)

 

We want to look at the latter half of this passage, verses 15-17, which commands, in three different ways, for us to let Jesus have his way in our lives. Along with these commands, we are also given the attitude in which we are to perform them—an attitude of thankfulness.

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Being Godly Means Being Content

Series: Seasonal Attitudes To Have All Year Long

Topic: Contentment

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Long, long ago a pig lived in a house at the edge of a village, and every day he worked in his garden. His was a most magnificent garden, and every year he won awards for producing the finest vegetables in the entire kingdom.

 

However, after many years of tending his garden in good weather and bad, the pig began to grow tired and discontented. He figured there must be an easier way to make a living. So he shut up his house and set off to find a new and easier way to make money.

 

Eventually he came to the home of a cat named Thomas, and from the house rang out the sweetest music. The Discontented Pig marveled as Thomas expertly played his violin. “Surely this must be easier than tending a garden” thought the pig and he asked Thomas to teach him to play the violin.

 

Thomas handed the pig a violin and bow and showed him how to play. But when the pig began to play the music was terrible…more like the sounds of bleating pigs than the sweet lullabies of Thomas. “this is terrible” cried the pig. “I thought you would teach me to play!”

 

“And that I will” replied Thomas, “but mastering the violin takes many years of practice and hard work.”

 

“Then I think I’ll look for something else”, answered the pig, “because this is as hard as weeding my garden.”

 

And so the pig set off down the road again, until he came to a house where there lived a dog who made cheese. “This may be just what I’m looking for” thought Pig. “After all, I love to eat and I could make the most delicious cheeses both for myself and to sell.” So he asked if the dog would teach him to make cheese.

 

“That I will” agreed the dog, and the two set about making cheese. But turning and kneading the cheese was hot and thirsty work, and after a while the discontented pig stopped for a rest.

 

“You can’t stop now” cried the dog. “The cheese will spoil. There can be no resting until the job is finished.”

 

“This is just as hard as growing vegetables” answered the pig. “I need to find something easier.”

 

And so he set off down the road once more, until he came across a man taking honey out of beehives. “Ah, honey gathering” thought the pig, “this is just what I’ve been looking for. I can fill my belly with delicious honey and certainly it does not look hard to gather.” So the pig asked the man to teach him how to gather honey.

 

The man readily agreed. He gave the pig a pair of gloves and a veil to cover his face and showed him how to lift honey out of a hive. But when the pig tried for himself some bees got into his gloves and under his veil and stung him. “How do I do this without getting stung?!” cried the pig.

 

“Why you can’t” said the man. “You cannot be a beekeeper without sometimes being stung.”

 

“Well then this is just too hard” said the pig as he waved the man goodbye.

 

As the little pig continued down the road he came to the realization that every kind of work has something unpleasant about it. So he turned around and went back to his home and his vegetable garden. He hoed and raked and weeded and sang as he worked. And there was no more contented pig in all that kingdom. (http://storiesforpreaching.com/category/sermonillustrations/contentment/)

 

Between now and Christmas we are going to be looking at several attitudes that we as Christians need to learn to exhibit in our lives. These attitudes will all be related to the upcoming holidays in some way. 

 

For example, next week, Thanksgiving week, we’ll look at Gratitude. We’ll look at Joy during the Christmas week. 

 

Today, we’re looking at contentment. Contentment is an attitude that we need around the holidays for many reasons—we tend to want to buy things and overspend during this time. Or, we might not be around family like we want to be during the holidays, causing us to be depressed and discontent.

 

Contentment is a good attitude for all people to have. But for Christians, contentment takes on a special importance. We, as Christians want to be godly (or we should want to), and…

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Take Jesus’ Yoke Upon You

Matthew 11:28-30

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Some of my favorite books to read when I was a kid was the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And my favorite of the Little House books was Farmer Boy, because it was about a boy growing up on a farm—Almanzo, Laura’s future husband. 

 

Since I lived on a farm, I enjoyed reading about how a farm worked back in the 1800’s. One chapter described how Almanzo broke his calves to work in a yoke.

 

So Almanzo went to the barn and called the little calves [named Star and Bright] out into the frosty air. He fitted the little yoke over their necks and he held up the bows and put the bow-pins in, and tied a rope around Star’s small nubs of horns. He did this all by himself.

 

All that morning he backed, little by little, around the barnyard, shouting, “Giddap!” and then, “Whoa!” Star and Bright came eagerly when he yelled, “Giddap!” and they stopped when he said, “Whoa!” and licked up the pieces of carrot from his woolly mittens…

 

Now he had to teach them to turn to the left when he shouted, “Haw!” and to turn to the right when he shouted “Gee!” [So he and his father made a bull whip] Every Saturday morning he spent in the barnyard, teaching Star and Bright. He never whipped them; he only cracked the whip.

 

He knew you could never teach an animal anything if you struck it, or even shouted at it angrily. He must always be gentle, and quiet, and patient, even when they made mistakes. Star and Bright must like him and trust him and know he would never hurt them, for if they were once afraid of him they would never be good, willing, hard-working oxen.

 

Now they always obeyed him when he shouted, “Giddap!” and “Whoa!” So he did not stand in front of them any longer. He stood at Star’s left side. Star was next to him, so Star was the nigh ox. Bright was on the other side of Star, so Bright was the off ox.

 

Almanzo shouted, “Gee!” and cracked the whip with all his might, close beside Star’s head. Star dodged to get away from it, and that turned both calves to the right. Then Almanzo said, “Giddap!” and let them walk a little way, quietly. Then he made the whip-lash curl in the air and crack loudly, on the other side of Bright, and with the crack he yelled, “Haw!” Bright swerved away from the whip, and that turned both calves to the left.

 

Sometimes they jumped and started to run. Then Almanzo said, “Whoa!” in a deep, solemn voice like Father’s. And if they didn’t stop, he ran after them and headed them off. When that happened, he had to make them practice “Giddap!” and “Whoa!” again, for a long time. He had to be very patient. (Wilder, 96-100)

 

Turn to Matthew 11. Almanzo is a fine illustration of how I imagine Jesus to be with those who take his yoke. He describes himself as a gentle and patient master like Almanzo was.

 

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)

 

This is an invitation for everyone to come to Jesus, and first, we learn that…

 

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Worthless Trophies—Philippians 3:4-9

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Despite the rise of atheism, most Americans still think that there is a God and an afterlife. A recent poll showed that almost 80% of Americans believe that, because we exist, someone must have created us (even 48% of nonreligious Americans believe that). 

 

Of course, that’s a long way from salvation—no one is saved by believing that there is a Creator somewhere. Most of those people would probably say that they could be saved because they’ve been a good person or they’ve followed certain religious rituals. 

 

Even in conservative Baptist circles, there are those who believe that they are saved because of their baptism, or that they went forward during an altar call, or because they prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. Those things, while not wrong in themselves, can and often become a mistaken source of confidence for many people.

 

What it all comes back to is the issue of taking pride in our own righteousness. A person may claim that they are going to Heaven because, “I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer,” or “I was baptized,” or “I’ve been a decent person.” Those things become like trophies for them.

 

If anyone in history could have made it to Heaven through his own righteousness and goodness, it would have been the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul didn’t just have one or two trophies, he had…

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