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Four Things We All Need at Christmas

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
December 25, 2020 7:00 am

Four Things We All Need at Christmas

So What? / Lon Solomon

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God says in the Bible that there are some things that every human being needs in order to make life fulfilling and worth living. Number one, we all need meaning and purpose to life.

We all need meaning and purpose in life. Did you read, I'm sure you did, in the paper about all those people killed on Mount Everest last year and there have been more killed since? I wondered when I read this article, why would a middle aged, out of shape man pay $65,000 to go over there and try to climb that stupid mountain? Well, why do people pay money to drop out of helicopters and ski down kamikaze slopes? And why do people pay money to do the insanest thing of all insane things, bungee jump?

That is the most insane thing I've ever seen in my life. Well, there was an interesting article in USA Today about why these kinds of on the edge activities have become so popular. And in the article, a guy named Robert Scheer, who is the editor of PowerTrips Magazine, said this. He said, and I quote, he said, baby boomers have reached the age where we've accumulated all the things we possibly could and we're still not fulfilled. We're looking for meaning in life, end of quote, and that's why we do these crazy things. You know, Mr. Scheer has made a wonderfully astute observation about human life, and that is that accumulating and possessing stuff does not make life worth living and give it meaning and purpose.

Macbeth discovered the same thing. After lying and scheming and murdering his way along with his wife to the throne of Scotland, then she died of unremitted guilt and he found out that the throne did not bring him all the satisfaction that he dreamed it was going to bring him. At the very end of his life, he says this. In a mixture of frustration and despair, he cries out, life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifying, meaning nothing. Life means nothing, he said. Friends, let's face it, life is hard no matter how you slice it, but when you don't even know why you're here, when it seems like you're just groping in the darkness without any real understanding of where you're going or what your purpose is, then Macbeth is right. Life is downright depressing.

I went through the same struggle when I was in college, when I was at the University of North Carolina. These questions drove me crazy. Who am I? Where am I from? What am I doing here? What's my purpose?

Where am I going? I used to sit around with my fraternity brothers and I and we'd smoke dope and we'd get high and then I'd say, well, let's talk about this. Let's talk about who we are and where we're from and where we're going. And these guys would say, Lon, you are such a downer, man. We don't want to talk about this stuff. You know, why don't you just graduate from college, get married, have kids, get a job, raise your kids, grow old and die like everybody else. Why have you got to know all these crazy answers?

Besides, Lon, nobody knows answers to those kind of questions. And I began to wonder after a while if anybody really did have any answers to those questions. And then I met Jesus Christ. And I wanted you to see what he said. He said, look here, John chapter 8, verse 12. Verse 12, Jesus said this. He said, I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. And when I met Jesus Christ and became connected with Jesus Christ in personal relationship, Jesus shined his spotlight onto all those dark areas of my life, onto all those dark questions in my life. And suddenly he provided me with all the answers to those questions. He gave me a reason for being alive and a reason for waking up in the morning and a reason for living every day that stretches beyond this world and out into eternity. No longer was life just the same old, same old, but suddenly there was an eternal meaning to my life because I was connected with the eternal God of the universe. And I believe that in order to live a functional, happy life, you need to have this same sense of an eternal reason for why you're here. And I needed it. And I maintain you and I cannot find it anywhere in this world. The only place we will find it is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now there's a second thing we all need. We all need power over our passions. You know, Shakespeare was an astute observer of human nature. In play after play of his, basically the plot is the same. It's all about the struggle of men and women against their own passions. I mean, we've already mentioned Macbeth, whose passion, whose obsession was power. And then there's Othello, whose obsession was his violent rage. And then there was Shylock in the Merchant of Venice, who had the passion of greed. And then there was Romeo and Juliet, the Montagues and the Capulets, who struggled with the passion of hatred and bitterness for one another.

And of course Hamlet, who had the passion of revenge. And friends, what makes this great literature is that it shows us human nature as it really is. And what it shows us in all of this literature is the inability of people to master the self-destructive passions that live inside of us in our own energy.

I mean, that's why they call these things tragedies. Now, today we see the very same struggle going on in our world, except we don't see it just in literature. We see it in real living flesh all around us. Hardly a one of us here doesn't know someone who is hopelessly addicted to something.

Alcohol, cocaine, cigarettes, pornography, food. And there's probably not one of us here who doesn't know someone who's fighting a losing battle, it seems, with depression. Someone in our family, someone in our office, someone in our neighborhood. Our nation, it seems, is fighting a losing battle against crime and corruption and unethical behavior at every level. And what about divorce?

It seems to me that many times, irreconcilable differences is just a euphemistic way of saying that the people in that marriage could not overcome their selfishness and their self-centeredness to a sufficient degree to make that marriage work. Friends, every one of us know people who are prisoners of their passions, and their passions are destroying their lives. But it's just not happening to other people.

No, it's happening to us too. Every one of us struggle every day, don't we? We fight the battle every day to live right, to act right, to work right, to talk right, to think right, to drive right, and to eat right.

And if we're really honest with ourselves, if we're really authentic, let's admit that when it comes to this fight of mastering these passions that live inside of us, most of us have to admit we lose more than we win. I was watching this special on TV a while back about dieting and about losing weight, and they were doing some people on the street interviews, and this one lady came on. She was hysterical. I mean, I hated to laugh, but she was seriously overweight, and here's what she said. She said, I have lots of willpower when it comes to food.

It's just that currently I'm not using any of it. I thought that was hysterical because I can identify with this woman, can't you? And I was at the gym this week, and a guy was talking to me about his dad who passed away, and he said to me, my dad died because his lungs failed from incessant smoking. He died at 10 p.m. one evening, and he said, Lon, what you would not believe is that that very day he had smoked four packs of cigarettes before he died at 10 o'clock at night. I said, that's crazy. He said, I know, but the man couldn't beat it.

So here's the question. Where do you and I go to get the power we need to overcome these self-destructive passions that live inside of us that if we don't overcome them, they're going to destroy our lives? Well, may I show you something else Jesus said? Look with me at the same chapter, chapter 8. Look down at verse 34. Chapter 8, verse 34. Look what Jesus said.

Jesus said in verse 34, truly, truly, I say to you, whoever commits sin becomes a slave of sin. Well, we already know that. We just got through establishing that. We understand the bad news.

Give us some good news. All right, verse 36. Jesus said, if the Son, if I, Jesus Christ, makes you free, however, you shall be free indeed. The supernatural liberating power of Jesus Christ over our self-destructive passions, folks, is phenomenal. Jesus promised that he would give this power to every single follower of his, and he does. You say, well, Lon, how can you say that? I mean, how can you stand up there with that kind of authority and make a statement like that? Well, I'll tell you how.

Because you are looking when you see me at a living, breathing, walking example of the liberating power of Jesus Christ in action. When I was a college student at the University of North Carolina, my friends and I, we smoked dope five times a day, six times a day, eight times a day, ten times a day. We dropped LSD four times, five times, six times a week. You say, well, when did you go to class? We didn't.

We didn't. Friends, I had a major drinking problem when I was in college. I had a major gambling addiction when I was in college. We would gamble till 12, 1 o'clock every night, 3 o'clock in the morning, 4 o'clock in the morning.

Then we'd go to bed, sleep till noon or 1 o'clock, wake up and gamble some more. We smuggled dope in from Amsterdam, hashish mostly, cut it up, sold it in Chapel Hill. That's how I put myself through my last two years of college, was selling dope in Chapel Hill. And towards the end of that time, there was actually a federal warrant for my arrest for drug smuggling and selling charges in Chapel Hill.

The police were actively looking to arrest me. In fact, to someone I knew that knew me many years ago said to me once long, I have never seen anybody, he said to me, with a greater tendency to self-destruct than you. And he's right. But friends, when Jesus Christ at the age of 21 became a part of my life, all of that changed. You say, well, are you sinlessly perfect now? Well, there are days I think that, but my wife straightens me out. No, I'm not sinlessly perfect.

And I want to tell you something else. I still have every single one of those self-destructive passions living inside of me still today, but there's a huge difference. And the difference is that Jesus Christ made me free so that I am not a prisoner of those passions anymore. I don't have to obey those passions. They don't have to run my life. And for the last 27 years, I have been able to live in victory over those passions and live a functional life that was worth living for one simple reason. And that is that Jesus Christ said, if the Son of Man makes you free, you will be free.

And he made me free. And friends, if you want that kind of power in your life, let me tell you something. You are not going to get it from therapy. You are not going to get it from drugs. You are not going to get it from going to a seminar.

Nothing wrong with any of those things. But that's not where you're going to get power to live above your passions. There's only one place that comes from. It comes from Jesus Christ himself. You need that power in your life. I needed that power in my life. Where are you going to get it if you don't get it from Jesus Christ? Third. The third thing we need, everybody needs, is not only meaning in life and power over our passions, but we all need peace of mind.

Peace of mind. You know, there was a very touching article in the Washington Post this past week, I don't know if you saw it, it was on the front page of the sports section, about a young man named Damon Myers. Damon Myers is a junior at the United States Naval Academy. He's also a member of the football team at Navy.

And Damon had to hold the rest of this year all laid out. He was going home for Thanksgiving in New Jersey to be with his family. He was then going to come back and play in the Army-Navy game.

And he was working out at the gym there with the football team just before Thanksgiving. And he noticed when he lifted his arm, he noticed there was a little bit of swelling under one of his arms. So he went to see the corpsman who sent him to Bethesda Naval Hospital. And before he even knew what happened, he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma, which had already spread into his bone marrow and had already spread into his spinal fluid. Right now as we speak, Damon Myers is right across the Potomac River over at Bethesda Naval, being given massive doses of chemotherapy hoping to stop this.

And instead of spending Thanksgiving together as a family in New Jersey, that family spent Thanksgiving in the waiting room over at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Can life change quick or what? Yes, it can. This is a life full of lots of uncertainty. I mean, you think your money is safe and then the Asian stock market hiccups. You think your career is secure and then you get downsized. You think your health is good and then you get a lump. You think that your roots are deep and then your company transfers you. You think your family is stable and suddenly your parents get a divorce.

I mean, all this uncertainty in our world robs people of all peace of mind. Look at people on the metro. Look at people on the bus. Look at people on the streets of Washington or wherever you work. Look at people in your neighborhood.

Look right into their eyes. Do you see a lot of peace of mind around? I don't. Where are you going to get peace of mind in a world like this?

There's not one thing the world does that I know of to produce it. May I show you something Jesus said? John chapter 14.

Couple pages back. It's page 764 if you're using our copy of the Bible. John chapter 14. Would you look at verse 27 with me?

Look what Jesus said in verse 27. Jesus said, Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give you the kind of peace that the world gives. Jesus said the kind of peace I dispense is not like the world gives out. I give you my peace.

So he goes on to say, Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Jesus says here that the kind of peace he gives is a kind of peace you can't find in this world. It's his peace.

And you can look for the rest of your life in this world. You'll never find peace like this because this is supernatural peace. This is peace that can take on the worst tragedy, the worst reversal, the worst train wreck in your life and can still give you peace through it all. This is peace, the Bible says, that passes all understanding, that surpasses all comprehension. It's supernatural peace.

And there is not one single situation in this world that this peace, Jesus' peace, that he gives supernaturally to his followers isn't up to. You know, my wife and I, Brenda, the last five years have been living a train wreck in our family. We have a little girl who's five years old that has a very serious, uncontrolled seizure disorder.

She's terribly retarded. We've been through years of tests and hospital stays and rescue squad visits to our home and who knows what else that I could tell you about. I mean, you talk about a train wreck, folks.

We have lived a five-year train wreck in our family. And yet I have to tell you something, even in the worst of the times, even in the worst of the evenings, in the middle of the night, standing in the emergency room, wherever, I'm here to tell you that the peace of God was up to it. The peace of God was there. I can't define it for you. I can't conjugate it for you. I can't put it in a test tube for you.

I can't weigh it on the scale for you. But I can tell you that there is not a train wreck you will ever face that the peace of God won't be up to, where you will stand there and say, look at this mess. I ought to be so depressed I'm ready to jump off a building. But somehow I've got peace and I'm calm. And it's got to be God. This is the peace God offers to give that you will never find in our world. It's only available to people who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

But to them, it's available in abundance. Fourth and finally, not only do we need meaning and purpose in life, not only do we need power over our passions, not only do we need peace of mind, but finally we need an assurance of immortality. We need to know what's going to happen to us on the other side of the grave. The saddest funeral I ever attended, and I do some funerals, was the funeral of my grandmother. I had shared Jesus Christ a number of times with my grandmother. She, of course, was Jewish like I am, with my grandfather as well.

And to the best of my knowledge, neither one of them had ever responded. When my grandmother died, we were there at the funeral service. We were sitting, you know, at the graveside. My grandfather was sitting in the, you know, the little green chairs they have out there. And in the middle of this service, he jumps up.

He's a 75-year-old man now. He leaps up and he runs and leaps on top of this casket. He straddles it, laying on his stomach, grabbing the sides, and he began to weep and to wail and make noises like I'd never heard any human being make in my whole life. I stood there totally paralyzed. I mean, I didn't know if I was supposed to do anything, and if I was, I had no idea what to do. Later on, I thought about that. It made such an impression on me, and I thought, well, what was that?

What did I just see? And it occurred to me, folks, what I just saw is the absolute bankruptcy, the absolute despair that comes to people who have no idea what the other side of the grave holds for them. My grandfather did not know where my grandmother was. He didn't know if he'd ever see her again. He didn't know what had happened to her, and he didn't know what was going to happen to him. And he was in total despair.

It was eerie. Folks, God has something so much better than that for you. Yes, he does. He wants you to know for certain that you have eternal life. Do you know where the word agnostic came from?

The word agnostic was coined, meaning that I'm not sure there's a God, I'm not sure about the Bible, I'm not sure about anything Christian, was coined by a fellow named Thomas Huxley. Thomas Huxley was a British philosopher who fell in with Darwin and all the Darwinian theories and began to doubt whether the Bible was true, whether God really existed, began to believe that on the other side of the grave there was nothing, but they blow you out, you're gone like a candle. And as he looked forward to his death, he wrote these words. He said, and I quote, he said, When I think that within 50 years I will be as if I had never been, the thought terrorizes me. It terrifies me. He said, I would rather exist even if it be in hell, end of quote.

I feel awful for this guy, poor Huxley. I mean, the answer to his terror was right in the Bible that he worked so hard to discredit and he worked so hard to undermine. Listen to what Jesus says in the Bible, John chapter 11, verse 25.

Maybe you'd like to turn there with me. John chapter 11, verse 25. Could Jesus Christ solve this man's terror of death?

Sure he could. Look what he says, verse 25. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. The person who believes in me shall go on living even when that person dies here on earth. Friends, this is the promise that Jesus gives, that when you leave this life, you don't have to be blown out like a candle. You can know for certain that you're going to live forever with Jesus Christ. That's why he said, John 3, 36, the person who believes in me has eternal life.

I want you to know that. John chapter 10, Jesus said, I know my sheep and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. He wants us, his sheep, to know that. He wants us to face eternity with a confidence and an assurance, not with the kind of terror that my grandfather faced it, not with the kind of terror that Thomas Huxley faced it. He wants us to face eternity with the kind of attitude that a fellow Christian brother named Dwight L. Moody faced it. I'd like to read you how he faced eternity, and I quote. He said, someday you will read in the papers that Dwight L. Moody of East Northfield, Massachusetts is dead.

Don't you believe a word of it, he said. At that moment, I shall be more alive than I have ever been. I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that death cannot touch, a body that sin cannot taint. I was born of the flesh in 1837, Moody said. I was born of God's Spirit in 1855.

That which is born of the flesh may die, but that which is born of God's Spirit shall never die, end of quote. Now friends, that's how you want to face the grave, with that kind of confidence. And you can have that kind of confidence because Jesus Christ came to give you that kind of confidence and you get it in personal relationship with him where all of those promises he made about eternity become yours. You need that kind of confidence as you face the grave. I need it.

Where are you going to get it? The only place to get it is from Jesus Christ. So let's summarize. What have we learned? Number one, we all need meaning and purpose to life. Number two, we all need power over the self-destructive passions that live inside of us. Number three, we all need peace of mind that can handle the worst train wreck. And number four, we all need the assurance of immortality.

And I'm happy to announce to you that the reason why Jesus Christ came to earth was to give you and me and every human being alive these four things and he will give it to us if we'll just give him a chance in our life. At 21 years old, when the man who led me to Christ challenged me to prove God, to open my life up and give God a chance to prove himself to me, let me tell you how I felt. Number one, I was scared. I was scared because I'm Jewish.

Jewish people don't do this. You understand what I'm saying? I mean, this was a huge risk. Second of all, let me tell you how I felt. I was skeptical, cynical. I thought, eh, Christianity, give me a break, man.

All these Christians in the world, if Christianity was real, I mean, the world would be a different place. Give me a break. But there was one other feeling I had at that moment and that is that I was desperate. I was desperate. I looked everywhere the world said to look and then some.

And I could not find these four things anywhere. In fact, I was desperate enough that I said, well, in spite of my skepticism and in spite of my fear, I'm going to give it a try anyway. Folks, that was the best decision I've ever made in my life 27 years ago. And maybe you're here today and you're a little scared of what a decision to Christ might mean for you. You don't even understand maybe what it means for you. And maybe you're pretty skeptical yourself. The real question is, though, are you desperate enough that you're willing to give Jesus Christ a chance to prove himself real to you?

That's the question. Let's bow our heads together, shall we? Father, I want to thank you for many of us here who have already made that decision, who already enjoy these four things in our life. And as Christmas approaches remind us that you didn't come into the world so that we could go to the mall and buy presents, that you didn't come into the world so we could have Christmas trees and put presents under them, but that you came into the world because you loved us so much and you cared about us so much that you wanted us to have these four things that you knew we could look the rest of our lives and we would never find in this world. So may our Christmas season as Christians be dominated by rejoicing, Lord, at your love for us and your practical concern for us. We love you, Lord, for doing this for us. We're frankly not quite sure why you did because we know who we are, but we sure love you for doing it. And may that sense of loving you, may that sense of enjoying your love be the foundation of our Christmas season this year. We pray these things in Jesus' name, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 20:16:51 / 2023-06-10 20:27:31 / 11

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