Friday, December 07, 2007

Sunday’s Sermon Outline

Introduction: At this time of the year we sometimes hear that more people commit suicide during the holidays than at other times. This statement is simply not true. The number of suicides is less than average during Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays. The number does go up on New Year’s Day, and that increase probably occurs because people dread returning to their normal routine. Experts do say, however, that stress increases during the holidays. The traffic jams, expenditure of money, extended time with relatives, and changes in sleep patterns increase our stress levels. Two other factors increase our stress, and the Bible deals with these two factors.

1. Unresolved anger adds to our stress (Ephesians 4:26-27, 29-32). Verse 26 includes a quote from Psalm 4:4: “‘Be angry, and do not sin:’ Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (NKJV). Verse 31 tells us to put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. Anger should be a temporary phenomenon, not a lasting obsession. Unresolved anger becomes bitterness. Such bitter poison can be passed on to our children. Our children may be uncomfortable around relatives during the holidays after they have heard those relatives criticized at home.

2. Materialism adds to our stress (1 Timothy 6:6-11). Verse 8 tells us that we should be content with adequate food and clothing. Most of us do not need expensive gifts at Christmas. We should strive for a simpler lifestyle and better stewardship of our resources. Verse 9 says that those “who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare.” This verse can apply to very poor people because it is not discussing wealthy people; rather, it is discussing those who desire to be wealthy. Verse 10 is often misquoted. It does not say that money is the root of all evil. It says that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Again, wealth is not the problem; rather, the love of wealth is the problem. Jesus said that no one can serve two masters and that we cannot serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). Some people worship wealth; they place it above God in their list of priorities. This temptation is especially strong during the holiday season.

Conclusion: At this time of the year, we should focus on the simple, yet important things. We can focus better if we deal properly with unresolved anger and materialism.