The Bible is a beautiful tapestry, with many threads woven through it, one of those threads being the true reason for Jesus' birth.
Each year our families gather to celebrate Christmas with parties, food, and gifts. Why do we gather, and what is the true meaning of Christmas? Let’s see what God says about it.
Jer 1:4-5, “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” God formed us, so doesn’t it make sense that He would know who we are, His individual purpose for each of our lives, and what we need? He gave each of us a unique DNA, which allows us the choice of developing into the people He wants to live with for eternity. And, He knows we need a savior, Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” for none of us were born perfect.
God told us, some 1,500 years before Jesus’ birth, that Jesus is His Son and that God would send Jesus to save those who put their trust in Him, Ps 2:7, 12, “I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee…Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Then, God had Daniel give us the date of Jesus’ birth, some 500 years before it happened, Dan 9:24-25, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” And, the wise men used this prophecy to determine the date they would look for the star, which would guide them to Jesus, Numb 24:17, “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”
God’s prophecies are available to all; however, only those of us willing to humble ourselves will be able to use them to witness their fulfillment, thus learning to believe Him and His Word, Matt 2:1, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.” The wise men believed God and were rewarded for their belief. They traveled nearly 900 miles to find the truth of the Messiah’s birth, even though they found a very young Jesus, not a newborn, Matt 2:11, "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh." When they found Him, they humbled themselves before Him and celebrated His birth with great joy. Many of us, who count ourselves as wise, have ignored the prophecies and thus have not learned to believe, sadly leaving us without the faith God offers to all, Rom 1:22-25, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” When we think we are too smart to fall for God's simple message of love, we make up our own laws and set up our own images to worship, thus choosing to ignore God and the eternity He is offering. What images are we worshipping today? Money because it provides the things we can use to show we are somehow better, power because we can use it to show we are somehow more important, fame because others will worship us, and personal pleasures because we feel we are entitled to more, are a few of the many selfish indulgences we have chosen as substitutes for our Creator.
When Jesus was ready to begin His ministry, God made it clear to all willing to hear, Matt 3:16-17, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
God told us He is searching for His sheep, Eze 34:11, “For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.” Some 600 years after Ezekiel’s prophecy, God sent Jesus to find us, Lk 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” for we are all lost at some point in our lives. Jesus told us of the great rejoicing in heaven each time one of us is saved, Matt 18:11-13, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” Jesus came for those of us willing to accept Him as our savior, those of us willing to admit we are lost.
Before Jesus came, we were all dead in our sins, Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Sure, people sacrificed spotless lambs in hopes of atoning for their sins. However, those sacrifices were only God's foreshadowing Jesus’ first appearance. God never wanted our sacrifices, He wants our hearts, He wants us to show the same mercy He has shown us, Hos 6:6, "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." and Matt 12:7, "But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." Those sacrifices were meant to teach us sin causes great pain and suffering, especially to the innocent. Most of us try to hide our conscious thoughts from the pain our sins cause. The pain is still there; we just want to ignore it because we want to keep sinning more than we want to stop the pain. And so, today, we witness the increasing use of drugs to help us mask the pain.
Jesus came to free us from our chains of bondage and the endless cycle of our own sins. He knows we cannot free ourselves. Freedom from the chains of bondage does not mean we sin no more. It means we no longer try to hide our sins; we no longer pretend we are already good enough and do not need a savior. After admitting our sins, we repent and look for ways to prevent repeating those sins. He calls us to progress since He knows we cannot reach perfection on our own; it is a process. He wants our repentance, our hearts, not animal sacrifices, Matt 9:13, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Since none are righteous, no not one, Rom 3:10, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” He comes for any of us honest enough to admit we are not righteous.
Our attempts to project the image of a sinless life are futile. If we keep up this false image, our guilt will lead us to demonstrate our sinful nature in ever more observable ways. If unchecked, these evil thoughts continue to grow into self-fulfilling prophecies that escalate until one day, our deeds are too evil and too noticeable to hide any longer. Once caught and convicted, the guilt and remorse we have hidden for so long emerges in waves of emotion and relief. We no longer have to pretend. The veil we have used to hide our guilt has been lifted. If we reach out to God during this time, by opening the door to the possibility of His existence, Jesus will enter our lives and show us His love and mercy. He has been waiting for thousands of years to free us from our sin. Jesus does this because of His great love for us, not because of anything we have done to deserve it. However, we must invite Him into our lives, for He never forces us to do anything, Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Love never forces, it is humble, kind, forgiving and full of mercy, Tit 3:4-6, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;”
This is the gift Jesus brought us from heaven some two thousand years ago. The angels celebrate each time one of us opens the door, Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” and it is our repentance that demonstrates our surrender to His love, Lk 15:10, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” This is the joy we should experience when celebrating Christmas, and it is not Christmas without Christ! As long as we do not allow the Christmas celebrations to lead us away from God’s Truth, we can meet to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we can exchange gifts, and we can eat and drink, as Jesus did on His last night with His disciples. But, we must do it all to the glory of God, 1 Cor 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Dear Lord, May the joy of Jesus permeate our Christmas celebrations. Amen.
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