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Holidaze Attitudes (Luke 10:25-33)

Rev. Dr. William A. LewisRev. Dr. William A. Lewis, December 3, 2017

The Supreme Court has ruled there cannot be a nativity scene on Capitol Hill this Christmas season. This has nothing to do with the US constitution’s prohibition against the promotion of a religion by the federal government. They simply have not been able to find three wise men or a virgin in the nation’s capital. There was, however, no problem finding enough mules to fill the stable.

I want to talk about your holiday attitude. Traffic jams, long lines, the madness of decorations, buying presents, hosting events, airport pickups and guests arriving can leave you in a “Holidaze”, which leaves you in a bad state of mind.

Gripers and complainers have a bad attitude about life. They always see things from a negative slant. Simeon Ford, the proprietor of the Old Union Hotel in New York, said, “You don’t need to know anything about a hotel to run a hotel. You just open it up and the customers will tell you how to run it.” Most people are quick to gripe and complain about something if they don’t like it. When we see something we don’t like, we say something about it. Interestingly, if we see something we do like, we tend to keep it to ourselves. Thus, we are prone to be more negative oriented than positive oriented.

There is an alternative; rejoice always. This is an attitude that arises from the core of us. It is God released from within us.

What is your approach to life? A family was displaced by the hurricane, which forced them to live in a motel. Someone said to the 6 year old girl, “It’s too bad you don’t have a home.” To which the young one replied, “We have a home, we just don’t have a house to put it in.” What a wonderful way to reframe things.

From the Good Samaritan story we find three basic attitudes people have towards others.

The first is the attitude of the robbers—stealing. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him half dead” (Luke 10:25-37). There are many ways of stripping and robbing people, leaving them half dead.

You’ve heard Congress has passed a new tax bill? It reminds me of the businessman on his death bed who called his friend and said, “I want you to promise me when I die you will have my remains cremated. Then put my ashes into an envelope and mail them to the Internal Revenue Service and write on the envelope; ‘Now you have everything’.” We work hard and then have it stripped away to taxes.

An executive was telling another about the trouble he had keeping a secretary. He said, “I lost the last one because she had so many coffee breaks she couldn’t sleep nights.” Too many coffee breaks is a way of stealing from the employer. Another administrator at a state hospital in Illinois retired because she got tired of seeing people working the system to steal from the state.

We can steal from others without realizing it. When we live an entitled and self-oriented life, we rob others of the gifts God wants us distributing, like joy and love. God reminds us of our responsibility in Malachi 3: We steal from Him when we do not keep His store house full, so His care can be applied to those in need.

A ‘holidaze’ happens when we forfeit our spiritual attitudes of peace, joy and love, allowing anger, fear and frustration to be our mindset. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Who is the one always trying to disrupt our happy life? Satan.

We are under the influence and are filled with the presence of Christ’s Spirit. Thus, what the devil can do is limited to what we give him access to do.

Pastor Bill Vanderbush was watching the Animal Planet channel and noticed animals whine when they are afraid. This state of being sends out a sound indicating weakness, and it also releases a scent that attracts predators, letting them know there is an easy target.

“Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. But resist him with your faith…” (1 Peter 5:8).

Notice the Bible does not say Satan is a roaring lion, but sounds like one. Satan does not really have power over you. He’s looking for the vulnerable. When we have a bad attitude and start whining and complaining, guess who is drawn to us to rob us of our joy, steal our peace, kill our Christmas spirit; Our spiritual adversary feeding our bad attitude.

You know what it’s like to be around a complaining grumbler, they change the atmosphere to the negative. They can even turn a good thing into a bad thing. Recently, I received a prophecy that God’s angels and even Gabriel are coming to fight for me. Good stuff, yes?! Well, I immediately associated it with a similar prophecy I received when I went through a crises, and so became afraid of what new problem was coming my way. I had to apologize to God for immediately turning to fear, and thanked God for covering me then and promising to cover me in the future.

Again, notice how to get a change of attitude: resist with your faith. This means give yourself a talking to, intentionally redirect your attitude and choose the Lord’s thoughts. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Paul wraps it up saying, “the God of peace will be with you.”

Another attitude in the Good Samaritan story, disengagement. Notice a priest and Levite (religious guys) happened to be going down the same road, and when they saw the hurting man they passed by on the other side. No doubt they were busy, probably, with church business. Someone asked me if I had given my Harley Davidson a name? I said, “Yes, Church Business. So, when someone calls the office and asks for the pastor and I’m out riding my motorcycle they can say, ‘He’s not here, he’s out on Church Business’.”

These religious guys didn’t stop and help this man. After all, a ploy robbers used was to put a decoy out on the road, and when a compassionate soul stopped to help they robbed him. So, just like our world, it is not safe to help someone. Besides, there are always victims in life to help. If you don’t give money to this homeless person there will always be another at the next intersection.

The problem is when you are a Christian and Jesus’ Spirit lives inside of us, we are called to care for others. 1 Corinthians 3 tells us love believes all things, so even if someone is telling us a fib, our calling is to care about their needs and let the Lord sort out their mess.

It’s easy to get an attitude because selfishness is at our core. It’s the season to give, because this is the season we celebrate God’s great gift of love and salvation with us. “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son...” (John 3:16). This is why we are generous, because God is generous. This is why we give of ourselves, because our God gave Himself to us.

One Sunday the usher dropped the offering plate. The brass plate made a thunderous sound as the money flew everywhere, coins rolling and bills flying. The pastor asked, “What happened?” The usher said, “Pastor, I couldn’t help but drop the plate. I got so excited because I’ve never seen a hundred dollar bill in the offering before.”

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant or put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and be generous and willing to share. In this way they lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

I saw a fascinating European commercial where children were asked what they wanted from Santa. The kids listed every toy possible. Then they were asked what they wanted from their Mom and Dad. Suddenly, they went silent as they pondered deeply what they wanted from their parents. Then they all made similar statements: “I want you to spend more time with me, I wish we could go to the park together.” They wanted relationship, not stuff. The Christmas message about Jesus is God with us. Maybe this is where we go wrong, we want stuff from God, and by-pass Him.

We’re supposed to be givers. Money is one thing, but let’s go to an even more difficult place: relationships & forgiveness. Jesus uses as an object lesson a Samaritan, which is the equivalent to a Republican for a Democrat, a Liberal to a Conservative, an ISIS to a Christian, an Ohio State Buckeye to a Michigan Wolverine. This is someone who is disdained, dismissed, demonic, should not be allowed to live. This is the offensive person. This is the person Jesus uses as the tool of compassion.

The Samaritan saw the man, took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, was inconvenienced, spent his money on the man’s healing. Does it remind you of when Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd?

‘A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). Or “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31)

The Lord wants us to have His heart, and that includes those who are undeserving. This is when we are most like God, when we care for those who we are considered at odds with. When we see an awkward person and are inclined to say, “What’s wrong with that person?” lets determine to bring peace where there has been pain, comfort where there has been cruelty, healing where there has been hurt. Most bad people have endured a deep hurt in life, and Jesus wants us to be the avenue He brings healing to their wound.

The Good Samaritan had the same look, same heart, same compassion, same tangible care God has for us. The Samaritan so loved, he gave of himself, his time, his resources, and his heart.

Going through the holiday season this way will transform your experience when waiting in a long line, when dealing with a difficult person, when someone stings you with their words, or an old wound resurfaces.

At last week’s staff meeting a couple of the team were discussing someone and wondering how can we help them overcome and be a leader? For some we are dealing with a life-long character trait, while for others it is a momentary lapse of judgment. Either way we are called to be Jesus to them. Philippians 2:3-4

Ann Graham Lotz made an observation: God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). The word “formed” is the Hebrew word “yatsar”, which means to mold. It is used to describe a potter molding and shaping clay. So, while God spoke everything in the universe into being, He personally shaped the physical characteristics of man with His own hands and breathed into man His own life.

The only part of creation that God touched personally was you, and every person you meet. As the body of Christ, we are to continue God’s touch. As our culture overlooks the reason for the season, Jesus, maybe we can use our God-made-lives to help someone else find the purpose of the holiday season—God with us.

So, lets put a practical application to this sermon; “Let us not become weary of doing good...Therefore, as we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:9-10).

See yourself in terms of being a Holiday servant, a Santa’s elf. Jesus’ touch for someone else. An elderly widow, restricted in her activities, was eager to serve Christ. After praying about this she realized she could bless others by playing the piano. The next day she placed an ad in the paper: “Pianist will play hymns by phone daily for those who are sick and despondent—the service is free.” People called and she’d ask, “What hymn do you want to hear?” Within a few months her playing had brought cheer to several hundred people, many of them poured out their hearts to her and she was able to encourage them.

In the T.V. show “Fixer Upper”, which is more popular than the Alamo in Texas, Chip and Joanna Gaines buy a distressed property and fix it up. The show is powerful because they choose to view circumstances in a different light, taking a house from what it was and turning it into what it could be. This reframing is essential for every dimension of life in this sin tainted world.

Let’s go with the Good Samaritan attitude; anyone, anytime, anywhere, any method, I’m going to have a God attitude.

Sources: Steve Shepherd, Jim Denison

About Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis: Rev. Dr. William Lewis has been the Senior Pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration since 2009. Whether at a traditional service, praise service, or the more casual Thursday night service, you’ll find that Pastor William’s preaching brings the Word of God to life D.Min. McCormick Theological Seminary Th.M. Princeton Theological Seminary M.Div. Fuller Theological Seminary B.A. University Colorado
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