First Lesson:

Malachi 3:1-4:

1“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

2But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.


Psalm: Psalm 24 on Page 73 in Christian Worship

The earth is the Lords, and everything in it,

   the world, and all who live in it;

for he founded it upon the seas

   and established it upon the waters.

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?

   Who may stand in his holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

   he will receive blessing from God his Savior.

Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors,

   that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

   The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors,

   that the King of glory may come in.

Who is he, this King of glory?

   The Lord Almighty-he is the King of glory.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son

   and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning,

   is now, and will be forever.


Gospel Lesson:

Luke 3:1-6:

1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6And all people will see God’s salvation.’”


Second Lesson/Sermon Text:

1 Corinthians 4:1-5:

1This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.


Sermon Outline:

One of the great tasks of Christmas is hiding gifts. This is something that we have had to do less and less of as the kids have started growing up and moving out of the house. Since they’re not around the house during the time that we buy and wrap gifts like they were when they were little, we can just keep them out in the open until they are ready to come home. When they were little, though, it was of the utmost importance that we find good spots where they didn’t have access so that we could maintain the mystery and the secret of the gifts right up until the time that we revealed them to the children on Christmas Eve. Today, as we approach the celebration of Christmas for another year, we talk about the way in which we as Christian handle another mystery. The handling of that mystery is so much more important than the way in which we handle other mysteries in our lives.

Handling the Mystery Takes Faithfulness

I. In Paul’s day

II. In our day

III. At Christmas time

I. In Paul’s day

  • As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, one of the big problems they had was factions
  • They had divided themselves into different groups depending on a favorite leader
  • They probably did so because of the personalities of the pastors they followed
  • Paul wanted them to know that they were judging their leaders by wrong criteria
  • He used a couple of pictures to describe what the role of a leader was in a church
  • First he used the picture of a rower on a Roman ship, there in service to the ship
  • Then he used the picture of a steward over someone else’s household: Joseph
  • This was a servant who was given a great deal of authority and latitude in a house
  • However, he was answerable to the one who owned the home and employed him
  • He said that he was in service to God and to the mystery (hidden things) of God
  • This refers to the truth of the gospel that people wouldn’t know about otherwise
  • His chief mission was not to conceal it (like a Christmas gift) but to reveal it to all
  • The chief and most important thing for that task was to be faithful to God’s truth
  • If they were to judge him, they were to judge him according to that faithfulness
  • This is why he said that he didn’t care if they judged him by other things or not
  • He even said that he made it a practice not to judge himself by those things either
  • He knew that, ultimately, it would be revealed on the last day if he was faithful

II. In our day

  • I read several commentaries and each said the same thing, no matter when written
  • They said that people tend to judge a pastor’s work by those same external things
  • Pastors also can get caught up in examining themselves by comparing to others
  • If a pastor is to be judged, it is to be by the standard of the Word of God alone
  • In the end, that is the 1 thing that matters above all other things in a church’s life

III. At Christmas time

  • As we get closer to Christmas, this is a thing that we need to remember about it
  • There are so many things that we can get ourselves caught up in in the holiday
  • The one thing that matters is that we know and express the gospel at this time.


About Joel Lilo

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