Christmas means….

 

Scripture: Luke 2: 8-20

 

In our culture today what does this time of year mean? To some it means that their business may end the year with a little money in the bank. To others it means that they hope they will get what they want for Christmas from Santa. What about in countries which are less fortunate than we are?

What about the children in Korea with their eyes so big and bright, what does this time of year mean to them? In North Korea, they may be looking for food and hoping they will have a meal tonight. In South Korea, where there are some churches and a fairly robust economy, they may be celebrating Jesus’ birth just like we do.

I wonder also about those who live in Africa. In places like Zimbabwe where the annual income may be fifty dollars, where people live in huts and never see shopping malls or a Christmas tree, what do they think of this time of year that is celebrated in most countries?

How about the Muslim countries, where Christmas is not celebrated at all?

I am sure it means different things to different people depending on their culture and their beliefs.

 

Do we forget about Jesus at this time of year? I have heard of people who set an extra place at the table for Him because it is His birthday that we celebrate. It isn’t our birthday but it is the Lord’s birthday and this is a time to remember Him and why He came.

Luke 2: 8-20

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told.

The announcement that went out to the earth about God’s Son being born went to the shepherds, not the temple, not the high priest. Why do you think God went to the outcasts of society to announce the birth of His Son? I think it is because they would receive the news with humble hearts and with willing spirits. They were chosen by God and told the news by a multitude of angels, they had to feel honored even if society said they didn’t deserve honor.

Shepherds were considered unclean and not allowed to participate in any worship service, even though they took care of the animals which were used as sacrifices.

What about today? How do we receive the news of Jesus and His sacrifice for us? Do we humbly bow and thank Him and ask Him to come into our lives and be near to us every day? I am sure that is what He wants of us but not just on holidays or at certain times of the year, or when things are going bad. Jesus wants us to be near to Him as He is with us every day and in all things, great and small in our lives.

Doesn’t He deserve our respect and praise? For all the things that God has done for us through Jesus and through His work on the cross the least that we owe Him is our life in service to Him. Is there any higher calling than to be called a “child of God”? I don’t think so and I don’t believe any of you think that either.

So, what are we to do when we realize who we are in relation to Him? Do we become missionaries? Yes, in a manner of speaking we are supposed to be just that, because Jesus told us to be the light of the world and to take the gospel to all people. We can do that every day while we are working, or at a restaurant or a ball game. We do it by our life and our witness to others and when His Spirit is working through you they will see it and recognize it.

Getting back to the shepherds and what they saw and did; they saw the glory of the Lord shining from those angels who were proclaiming that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. In the darkness of the Judean hills the light must have been breathtaking, like spot-lights shining all around them. Today with the technology that we have lights in the sky wouldn’t be a big deal, but these were angels and they were SINGING and there were no lights at that time except for a fire or a candle so the glory coming from them would’ve been much brighter than they were used to.

Can you imagine how those shepherds felt? “What is this from God? Why is He telling us this?” They might have been thinking those things but they listened to the message and obeyed. They went to Bethlehem and found the Christ child and worshiped Him.

This is all that we are called to do in our lives but we are to do more than just worship. We are called to be ministers and teachers about our faith and why we have the faith that we have. We are to be the voice of Jesus and his hands and feet in a world that is rejecting Him now and in the future, until we are taken to be with Him.

Our Savior was born in the most humble of circumstances and His birth was announced not to kings or priests but the shepherds. He was a King at birth and still is today and yet people don’t acknowledge His kingship over their lives even if they are Christians. The crown that He wore on earth was one of pain and made from thorns, the one that He wears now is gold and is given to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Mighty Counselor, the Prince of Peace.

He is our Savior and the reason for the season and we need to humble ourselves and pray and seek Him every day. Make it a habit to do this and you will be better for it and you will be more like Him in your walk with Him.

 

Advertisements

Can you imagine a world without Jesus?

I know that today there are may who think they would enjoy a world in which Christianity didn’t exist and one in which Jesus had never been born. Could anyone truly want to live in a world like that?

There are some who would truly enjoy this because it would give them so much “freedom”, in quotes because they would not know what they were free from. The world would be a very ugly place, even more than it is today if Jesus had not been born.

Satan would have completely free reign over our world although God would not allow him to go too far. God’s plan was in place before Satan ever rebelled and convinced a third of the angels to follow him. There couldn’t be a world without Jesus, period!

He is the Word of God who came to ransom our souls from sin and He is the Creator along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. They are the triune God, the Trinity and without them the entire universe would not exist.

It is humbling to know that the Creator of the universe cares for each of us and craves a relationship with us!

My imagination can’t come up with a scenario to illustrate how different the world would be if Jesus had never been involved in it. Put bluntly, the world would not exist as it is today. He is the Word of God incarnate who became a man to die for our sins so that we can be covered by His sacrifice and forgiven of our sins.

To answer the question I will attempt to list some things which would be vastly different if Jesus had not come to die for us.

1. If Jesus had not come, there would be no church of any denomination, only other religions would exist.

2. The only knowledge of God we would have would be from the Jewish Torah (Old Testament) because there would be no New Testament.

3. We would all be looking for the Messiah since He was prophesied to come in the Old Testament. This is why we couldn’t have a world without Jesus, because if He had not come at the time that He did then God would be a liar and therefore He wouldn’t be God.

The promises and prophecies that the Old Testament prophets wrote down came to them through the Holy Spirit so if they weren’t true then the whole story of Creation would be suspect.

God has to keep His promises because He is God and cannot lie, so the Messiah had to come when He did and at the time that He did. He will come back at the appointed time as well so there is no question about His coming, we just don’t know when things will come about. The time will be accomplished in God’s time not our own, just as everything else is and has been from the beginning.

In this world and at this time, we have been pushing God out of every aspect of our lives. From public places and government and schools to television, there are people who cannot stand to hear any reference to the Bible or Jesus or salvation. God has always wanted a relationship with us but humanity, since the fall in Eden, has been on an ego trip. “I can do it myself” has been our mantra for many generations and it is not true! We cannot do it alone, just like toddlers who say “I can do it myself” we have to have help.

In spiritual matters we are dumb without God and His Word! The man-made religions of the world are just that, “man-made”! They didn’t do anything or create anything or anyone. Like a block of wood or stone or gold formed into an idol, man-made religions don’t have the ability to truly do anything! Just like those idols, our religions are static, stagnant, and dead.

God is everlasting and the Creator of all. To worship Him is to worship the True God not something that was brought on by a drug or lack of sleep or lack of water! Dreams, visions, and feelings can’t form a seed or a fish with a word or put stars in their places by thinking of where they should be, but God can and He did! Trust Him, follow Him and ask for His forgiveness because He loves you!

Do you know much about God?

First, I want to ask this question: How much do you know about God?

Do you know where to find this answer? The answer that most people give and the one that everyone thinks is the right answer is “in the Bible”. That is true, God reveals a lot about Himself in His Word.

Do you read it? I don’t mean a passage or two in church, I mean daily, with purpose. Asking Him questions about it while you read so that He can show you the meaning and the message that is meant for you in it.

Your salvation is linked to God’s Word because it was the Word made flesh that came to us as Jesus and died on the cross to save us. But, there are many people that just attend church and never look for more out of the scripture than what they get from the preacher. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us from Genesis to the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It shows us His character and as much as we can handle on how He thinks about things.

God wants a relationship with you like the one that you have with your wife or husband. Let me tell you a story:

I read this testimony of an elderly missionary who was returning from the foreign field to the United States to live out the days he had left with his married daughter in the Midwest. Upon arriving on the California coast he boarded a bus to begin his trip across the country. The first night the bus stopped in Las Vegas. He had been out of the United States for more than thirty years. He had never been to Las Vegas. He checked into a hotel and took a walk down the strip. Although it was close to midnight, it looked like midday, because of all the lights. As he walked down the strip he heard the loud music, saw the amazing hotels, and even went to a car show where he saw the world’s finest automobiles. He saw the games being played in the casinos and heard the money coming out of the slot machines. He saw the marquees announcing the amazing entertainers. He saw the drink specials announced and the amazing food advertised in the restaurants. Eventually he went back to his room in the high-rise hotel where he was staying. He entered the room but didn’t turn on the light. He walked across the room and opened the curtains. In the quietness of his room he got on his knees in front of the window, looked down at the Vegas strip, then into the more impressive lights of the heavens, and prayed this prayer, “God, I thank you that tonight I haven’t seen anything I want more than I want you.”

Idleman, Kyle (2011-05-24). Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus

There is no greater testament of faith and love toward your Savior than that, and that is what He desires of you. Is it possible for us to have that kind of relationship with our Heavenly Father? Emphatically, YES! He created the entire universe for His glory and to tell His story to us even if we can’t read. God loves every person on earth and until they realize that, they are missing out on the relationship of their life.

Many people think that following Jesus is going to cut into their “fun stuff” but that depends on what their fun consists of.

Have you ever considered what Jesus meant when He said, in Luke 9:23, to “deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me?”

In denying yourself, you have to consider the relationship that Jesus’ disciples considered themselves having with Him. Which was that of a bondservant, one who serves out of love to his Master and not because he has to.

Regarding taking up your cross, Jesus is speaking of your burden or the sacrifice that you make in being a Christian.  To us, that means putting Him first and foremost in our daily life. We cannot do this in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit we can and we must! The outside world, outside of the Church, only sees Jesus through us and our actions and when those actions don’t line up with what is considered Christian behavior the church gets a bad reputation. That is when you hear things like, “that is where all the hypocrites go, and I am not going there”.

It doesn’t take but one instance of someone seeing you or someone in the church or even in your family and the word will spread to the point of no one coming but the faithful few. In the times that we are living in, we can’t afford for the body of Christ to be divided or the world to see it that way. Satan loves it when there are divisions and strife in the Church because as long as we are dealing with problems, no matter how trifling they may be, we aren’t effective witnesses for Christ.

We can be better because we are new creatures in Christ and we must show that to the world. If you haven’t made that decision to follow Jesus please do so today. He is only a prayer away. Ask Him to come in because once He does and you start living a surrendered life daily, nothing will ever be the same.