“Christmas at the Movies: It’s a Wonderful Life”

Week 1: Its a Wonderful Life
 
It’s tradition. The Christmas movies we watch every year bring us back to the joy and hope and laughter we long for. This sermon series is about remembering the greatest story ever told through some great Christmas movie classics..
 
Key Points:
What if Jesus was never born?
Without Jesus, we are trying to please a more powerful Deity.
Without Jesus, we are trying to experience the unknown.
Without Jesus, we worry we are failures.
-When religion & spirituality were our only option, Jesus invites into a relationship with the living God.
Remember, no one is a failure who is a friend of Jesus.
 
Further Conversation
1. Have you ever watched “Its A Wonderful Life”? Why do you think we create family traditions around certain movies & stories? 2. Clarence gives George a glimpse at life as if he never existed. He calls it a “great gift.” Would you want it? What might you see? 3. What do you think your life would be like without Jesus? 4. What is hard in practicing Religion (trying to please God)? What is hard about seeking Spirituality (experiencing the unknown)? 5. Read Matthew 1:18-25 How does Jesus solve the problems of Religion & Spirituality? What does Jesus offer instead? 6. Read John 15:12-15 What is necessary in a relationship with Jesus? What is your relationship like with Jesus? 7. What steps do you need to take to better your relationship with Jesus? How can you share your friendship with Jesus with others?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Numbers 6:22-27
I remember laying on a gurney in the Emergency Room. I was in such pain, having significantly broken my ankle. Everything changed when my dad walked in. The pain didn’t go away. The ankle didn’t miraculously heal. But somehow, my dad’s presence, his compassionate smile, and his strong hand holding mine gave me peace and confidence. Its like he loaned me his strength. Not everyone has an earthly father like that. But this blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 reminds us that God is a Heavenly Father eager to provide the same presence, compassionate smile, and peace. May you know God’s blessing. May God smile on you. May you experience his favor and receive his peace this week and forever!
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for desiring to be truly present in our lives. May we welcome you, knowing and receiving your Peace.
 
Tuesday – Isaiah 54:10
What does trust look like to you? My children take bigger risks in my presence. They trust I will help them. I know my confidence soars when my wife is beside me because I trust her. Trust ultimately creates confidence and inserts peace. Anxiety always flows from our desire to control. When we trust, we don’t feel the need to control. Do you trust God? Don’t just give it a passing thought, but let the thought go deep. Difficult times and bad things happen. Have those circumstances challenged your trust in God? Is it time for a heart to heart with God? Maybe peace is only a prayer away.
Pray: Almighty God, your Word says you are always faithful. Help me trust in you and draw near to you. Help me experience Peace.
 
Wednesday – Isaiah 11:6-10
My cat hates our dog. Our little dog is desperate to play, so she runs up to and around the cat, pawing at her and barking. As you can imagine, the cat does not find this amusing. The cat’s instinct it protection. In the wild, a dog might eat a cat. Look at the nature of our world. There is an instinct of violence, of danger, of kill or be killed. We see this in the animal world. We see this in the human world. Yet Isaiah prophesies of a time when the wolf and the lamb will live together in peace, when a child can place his hand in a pit of vipers and be safe. What brings this peace? Isaiah says it is a king from the linage of David. Preparing for Christmas this year, don’t miss the peace Jesus, the heir of David, promises to bring.
Pray: LORD Jesus, I confess that I often try to let the world and things satisfy me. Forgive me. Please fill me and satisfy my heart.
 
Thursday – Matthew 10:34-42
How can Jesus be the Prince of Peace and say these words? How can the angels proclaim God’s peace of earth at the birth of Jesus when Jesus says that because of him there will be enemies in our own household? How can all this be? So often we confuse peace with the absence of conflict. But real peace, God’s peace, is so much more. Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of Jesus. Peace is a person. And the truth is that not everyone wants to know Jesus. In some countries, a family member that decides to follow Jesus will be disowned. In some places, following Jesus can get you killed. Why would anyone risk such a thing? The answer is simple. Only Jesus brings real peace. What price are you willing to pay to know the Peace that is Jesus Christ today?
Pray: LORD Jesus, you alone are truth, peace, and life. I know it will cost me to follow you. May I take that bold step with you today.
 
Friday – Philippians 4:5-9
Are you an anxious person? When do you experience anxiety? Or when do you get nervous? Think about those times for a moment. In every case, isn’t anxiety or nervousness always a question of control? “I don’t know what will happen.” Isn’t that a confession that I can’t control the outcome. People fearful of public speaking are encouraged to imagine everyone in their underwear. Why? Because that visual suggests the audience is just as vulnerable and powerless as the speaker feels. Its about power and control. Yet the peace of Christ comes miraculously through trust and obedience. Paul reminds us to not be anxious but give control over to Christ. He urges us to fix our thoughts, not on our ability, but on our obedience and trust in Christ. How are you feeling today? Might this day’s peace hinge on who you think deserves control?
Pray: Holy Spirit, help me make the choice to surrender control to Christ. May I rejoice that Jesus is Lord. And my my actions prove it.
 
Saturday – 2 Thessalonians 3:16
“The Lord be with you.” What does that statement mean to you? As Paul closes this letter to the church in Thessalonica, he offers a blessing that Jesus, who is peace, be with them. As you close out a week that focused on peace, what did you experience? Have you taken the time to draw near to Jesus? How has Jesus shown that He is near you? So much of our joy and peace and hope as followers of Jesus has little to do with our circumstances but everything to do with who is with us. May the LORD be with you!
Pray: Jesus, may I draw near to you this day, knowing you love me and desire to be near me. You are my Peace, my Hope, my Joy!