We're just a few weeks away from Christmas and we are going taking a break from our normal weekly study.
And as you are out there doing your shopping, attending Christmas parties, visiting relatives and preparing for this special day. I want you to remember what Christmas is all about in the first place.
Believe me, I am not against Christmas at all. I love Christmas; it's a great time of year where everyone is giving to each other.
But more then that, it's the time of year that we remember the greatest gift of all, the gift of eternal life through God's Son Jesus.
Also, if you get really bummed out about the commercialism of Christmas, I would encourage you to go to this weeks "Devotional" and remember why Jesus was born here in the first place. I pray that through what the Lord has given me there to share and this study you will have a fantastic Christmas.
So let's get started.
First off, when did Christmas begin? Was it 2000 years ago?
Maybe I should be clearer. When did God think about Christmas being?
Was it 2000 years ago? You may say, no because the Old Testament tells of the Messiah (Jesus Christ) coming to die for our sins.
We see the first prophecy of the Messiah in Genesis in Chapter 3.
Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."
But what about 6000 years ago in Chapter 1 verse 1 of Genesis speaking of God in the plural form?
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
God had Christmas in mind even before that. Look at,
Titus 1:2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
God promised before time even began that there would be a hope of eternal life.
That means that before the earth, the stars, or the heavens were created, God knew what His plan would be.
God wasn't surprised at all.
God knew that Adam & Eve would sin, and that the only way to cleanse people of their sins is by sending His only Son Jesus to die for our sins.
God knew that a little over 2000 years ago, that He would be sending His only Son, Jesus to this earth to die for our sins.
No, God is never surprised!
You need to realize that no matter what you are going through right now, it's not a surprise to God.
Jer 1:4-5 4 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
God is not up there saying, "Wow, am I shocked, I never knew that he/she was going to do that." or "I never expected things to turn out that way, I made no plans for that. What should I do now?"
No, God is all knowing. He knew us before we were even thought about by our parents. Even before our parents were even born. Even before Adam and Eve were created by God.
No, God is not shocked at all at what's going on right now. Even with what the world does with His Son's birth, which we call Christmas.
Now you can get upset about it because it's to commercialized. Stores trying to make as much as they can off of us, by selling us stuff others or we don't really need.
The world has its specials on TV, trying to bring the feeling of the holiday season to your home.
Before I was a Christian, I would get those feelings. But little did I know that I could have those feelings all the time. It wasn't a feeling, but an acknowledgment of Jesus Christ and who He is!
For a short time the world feels, or senses that knowledge of God's Son being sent to the earth. But do they really know why?
Do you really know why?
The world does the same thing with Easter. They know that a man died on the cross, and even rose from the dead, but do they know why? Have you told them why?
This study may be the perfect opportunity to share Jesus with your family or friends.
So what really happened 2000 years ago, on December 25th, the day that we call Christmas?
The truth is; nothing, it's really just another day.
Don't get me wrong or tune me out yet till you hear the whole story. (No I haven't lost it or have turned my back on the Lord)
When we think of Christmas or see pictures, one of the first things you see is snow.
"So what" you say.
Well, snow means winter, and winter means snow. (Unless you're in sunny California, were it never rains or snows)
The birth of Jesus did not happen in the winter; in fact some even believe that it was the summer or fall, although the exact date or even month is unknown to anyone here on the earth.
So if it happened in the summer or fall, then we know that Jesus was not born on December 25th.
So why do we celebrate it on December 25th?
That's the world's idea. I won't get into when or by whom it all started. I want you to focus on Jesus not the world.
But the world took what God has done by sending His Son to die for us, and they bend it to their own needs and desires.
So is it wrong for us as Christian to celebrate Christmas?
Let me have Jesus answer that for you.
Luke 22:19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
"Do this in remembrance of Me" I love to take communion, It reminds me of what the Lord has done for me.
Just like I love Christmas, it reminds me of what God has done for me.
I celebrate Christmas as a time to remember God's greatest gift to me.
You see, if Jesus was not born, then we would all still be in our sins, doomed for hell for all eternity.
But God loves us so much, that He was willing to allow His only Son to become sin for us, so that we could be with Him forever in heaven.
2 Cor 5:20-21 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
So let's start looking at the real Christmas story in the book of Luke.
Luke 1:26-31 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
Notice that the angel came in the sixth month, which is not June, but in Hebrew is "Elul" which is in August or September. So if Mary conceived in August or September, then Jesus would have been born about nine months later, which would be in May or June.
An angel was honored with the privilege to tell Mary that she was the chosen one of God to bring the Messiah into the world.
Imagine if an Angel came to you, and told you that God had chosen you to do something that would impact the whole world. How would you act?
Maybe like Zacharias, who didn't believe the angel Gabriel when God sent him to him?
You see Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth were very old. But God sent the angel Gabriel to them, to let them know that they were going to be blessed with a son. And who was this son? It was John the Baptist, who was sent before Jesus to prepare the way for Him.
And here is Zacharias' response to God's message from the angel.
Luke 1:18-20 18 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 "But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time."
But you really can't blame Zacharias; you or I may have done the same thing.
But then we all have doubted God at one time or another, you may even doubt God right now, but that doesn't stop God.
Whether you believe God or not, God will still do what He said He would!
Luke 1:57 Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.
Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist, was born whether Zacharias believed or not.
You know what else is true? Jesus will return whether the world believes it or not.
Also, God will do what He said He told you He would, whether you still believe it or not.
Now Mary unlike her relative Zacharias believed Gods messenger. Here is Mary's answer to the angel.
Luke 1:38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
Verse 46-55 in Luke chapter 1 is called the song of Mary, for in it she praises the Father God for His blessings upon her.
Here is just a portion of that song
Luke 1:46-48 46 And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord,47 And my spirit has rejoiced in.48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
Mary acknowledged that she was a sinner as we see in verses 47-48
" God my Savior; For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant"
Mary was no different then us. She was a sinner just like us, just as where all the other people of the bible (except God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the angels who did not fall). Adam was, Noah was, Abraham was, King David was, and Paul was. We could go on for a long time mentioning the names in the bible. But the simple fact is that Mary was human just like us.
Mary was a sinner called by God to fulfill His purpose. Just like we are all sinners called by God to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
So if Mary was a sinner just like us, we shouldn't be praying to her, or to anyone else.
We can't pray to a human and think God will hear us.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Jesus is the only way between God and us, not through any saint (which we all are as believers), or preacher or pastor. No one but Jesus. We can pray FOR others, but we don't pray TO others!
I refuse to put my salvation in a sinful human being like me. I will confess my sins to the one whom died for those sins, Jesus Christ. I put my trust and salvation only in Jesus Christ!
Now the angel gave Mary specific instruction on what to name this child.
Here is the meaning of Jesus' name;
Savior; deliverer. Is a transliteration of the Heb. "Joshua," meaning "Jehovah is salvation," i.e., "is the Savior,"
Jesus, what a beautiful name, but actually His name in Hebrew is
Y@howshuwa' (yeh-ho-shoo'-ah) or Y@howshu'a (yeh-ho-shoo'-ah)
Christ is not Jesus' last name, but a title.
"anointed," translates, in the Sept., the word "Messiah," a term applied to the priests who were anointed with the holy oil, particularly the high priest. The prophets are called hoi christoi Theou, "the anointed of God," A king of Israel was described upon occasion as christos tou Kuriou, "the anointed of the Lord,"
Let's continue with the Christmas story from the bible
God is so cool. Read the next verse and see what He does.
Luke 2:1-5 1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
God uses the government to fulfill His prophecy of Jesus being born in Bethlehem.
Remember that Mary and Joseph were in Nazareth, and they needed to be in Bethlehem according to the prophecy.
They didn't know this, but God did.
Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."
So God used the government to have His prophecy fulfilled, by allowing a census to happen.
God used the Government and they didn't even know it.
It makes you think, how many times the Lord has used the Government lately without them even knowing it, and with us not knowing either?
Now if you read about the birth of Jesus in Matthew, we see that Joseph knew that Mary was going to have a baby and loved her so much that he would not make a big deal about the whole thing, even though he knew he wasn't the father.
God also intervened and came to Joseph in a dream and told him what was going on.
We see all this in
Matt 1:18-25 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
Let's continue the story in Luke.
Luke 2:6-7 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Jewish people are expecting the Messiah to be a great king (according to the world's term of king).
They cannot accept the fact that the Messiah was born in a type of barn, with His bed being an animal-feeding trough.
Riches, money, power, that's what the world say's we should all have to be happy and successful.
Look at the King of kings. He was not rich. He didn't have fine linen to be wrapped in.
He didn't have servants seeing to His every need. Mary didn't even have a doctor there or a hospital to go to.
But then how many kings have you heard of having angels coming and announcing their birth? Now that's the true King.
We say we need the best and trust in God to give us the best.
But how many times do we say thank you Father for giving me what I need or what I already have?
We tend to forget that the King of kings had just what was needed to come into this world, and Mary didn't ask for anything to fulfill God's work in her. She was only obedient to what God would have her to do. She knew God would supply her needs, even if all she needed were a barn to have the baby Jesus, and a feeding trough for Him to sleep in.
So as the Lord Jesus is being born, the angel is still proclaiming the good news if His birth.
Luke 2:8-18 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
The shepherds were about 1/3 of a mile away from Bethlehem.
Once again the message came to the simple folks of the birth of Jesus.
No high officials or royalty was informed. Just common people like you and I.
The message was brought to them; they were wondering why an angel would appear to them and what wonderful thing had just happened.
So they ran over to see. (These were the shepherds only, with the wise men showing up two years later. see Matthew chapter 2)
And what did they see? Jesus lying in a manger, just as was told them by the angel.
What they saw was the savior of the world, as proclaimed by the angel.
What did they do? They told others. (see verse 17-18)
That is the message of Christmas.
I am not an angel. But as a teacher, I am a messenger of God.
This day I bring you much joy in knowing that 2000 years ago the Savior has been born in the town of Bethlehem.
This Child has died for your sins, and is right now at the right hand of the Father.
This Child is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Don't you get excited about that? Doesn't it make you want to sing praises to the Father?
Well, why don't you?
Yes, right now.
You have heard the good news; sing to Him, for He alone is worthy of all praise glory and honor!
Now be like the simple shepherds and go tell others!
What if you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
Give your life and all to Him. What a perfect gift to give to the giver of the gift on this Christmas season.
Don't wait till December 25th, do it now. Just pray this simple prayer by faith believing that Jesus died for your sins and you will be saved.
Jesus, I admit I am a sinner, I believe that you died for my sins. I ask you to please forgive me for all my sins.
Thank you for forgiving me, Thank you for leaving heaven for me so I can be with you forever in heaven. Now may I spread the news just like the shepherds did, telling others what you have done for them and me. I ask this in Your name Jesus. AMEN
If you just prayed that prayer for the first time, you have just received the greatest gift of all for Christmas this year.
Now tell some one or send me an E-mail to let me know.
I pray that everyone will have a wonderful Christmas, that you will all remember on the 25th to thank the giver of the greatest gift.
And maybe do what we like to do, have a birthday cake and sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus".
Just do something in remembrance of Him!