Ponder: The Point of Christmas is We NEED a Savior (Luke 2:1-19)

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Oh

Mary did you know?

Listen as I read Luke 2:1-7 and verse 19:

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Verse 19:

But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 

Now, in this sermon I want to focus on verse 19, which says:  

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.[1]

  1. When we look at verse 19 and we notice that Mary is pondering these things in her heart we must notice that Mary’s life has changed a lot. Have you ever gone through a dramatic life change?
    1. Mary’s life was dramatically changed in order to be the mother of Jesus.
    2. I believe the changes from the previous year are exactly what Mary was pondering; now Notice how all of these events are part of the true meaning of Christmas. All of these life changes were in order to bring Jesus into the world. She must have been pondering who Jesus is and what is the significance of this Jesus? As I speak about these life changes, I ask you to ponder who Jesus is to you.
  2. Though it is not actually recorded in the Bible, we know that at some point Mary was engaged to Joseph and this happened before anything else in our Christmas story. A Jewish engagement would last about a year and was legally binding. It would take a written divorce to break off an engagement and if a woman was found pregnant during an engagement, by a man who was not her fiancé, this was considered adultery.
  • While engaged to be married to Joseph, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she will give birth to God’s son.
    1. Mary was told she will be the mother of the son of God. She is to be the parent of the future and eternal king of Israel.
    2. Now as Jesus is born, Mary must be pondering those words.
    3. Just like Mary pondered those words, I ask you to do the same, who is Jesus to you? Is this baby born king of your life? We’ll come back to that.
  1. In the events leading up to Jesus’ birth, Mary’s cousin gives birth in her old age.
    1. This is recorded in the first two chapters in Luke and we will not read the whole story now. But here is a man and woman with no children and passed childbearing years, yet God communicates to them they will have a son, and this is fulfilled prior to Jesus’ birth.
    2. Mary must have been pondering the events surrounding her nephew’s birth.
    3. As Mary pondered these miracles, I ask you to ponder, what does the Christmas story mean to you? What do you think of these miracles leading up to the birth of Jesus?
  2. After Mary was found to be pregnant, she had to tell her fiancé, Joseph, what was going on. So, she tells him that she is pregnant, and the father is God, for she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
    1. We don’t know the exact verbiage she used to tell Joseph, but we do know that Matthew’s Gospel (1:19) records that Joseph was going to divorce her.
    2. We really can’t blame Joseph for this, I mean; being pregnant by the Holy Spirit is not an everyday occurrence. Actually, this is the only time it has ever happened. Still, an angel appears to Joseph and this verifies Mary’s words.
      1. As Mary looked at her new baby, she must have pondered the events keeping her engagement intact.
      2. So, we see more events which happened in Mary’s life leading up to the birth of Christ; I ask again, ponder these events, what do they mean to you? What is the significance of Christ that all of these events came together for His birth?
    3. In the weeks or days before Jesus was born Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because of a census. We can see this recorded in the first few verses of today’s Scripture passage. Perhaps Mary knew the prophesy that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem and pondered how God made sure this would happen.[2] How significant is Jesus that even the place He was to be born was prophesied about and fulfilled?
  • Now, Mary is about to give birth to the Son of God, yet they are in Bethlehem looking for a place to stay. But with the census going on there are surely plenty of people traveling and there is no place to stay.
    1. Verse 7 of Luke 2 says there was no room for them in the Inn. The inn was probably a place for travelers to stay, maybe a house with extra rooms or something like that.
    2. So, Mary gives birth in a barn. Luke doesn’t mention any animals, though they could’ve been present since she gives birth in a place that housed animals. Mary lays baby Jesus in a manger or feeding trough.
    3. Mary must have pondered the location she was at, given Who she gave birth to. If you were to ponder this same thing, what do you think, isn’t it amazing that Jesus came identifying with those in poverty?
  • But there was still more to ponder. There is more if you read Luke 2:8-20.

We have a lot to ponder too, don’t we? Ponder this: All of these events came together and this is what Christmas is all about.

God became man to save us!

One raw winter night a man heard an irregular thumping sound against the kitchen storm door. He went to a window and watched as tiny, shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass.

Touched, the farmer bundled up and trudged through fresh snow to open the barn for the struggling birds. He turned on the lights, tossed some hay in a corner, and sprinkled a trail of saltine crackers to direct them to the barn. But the sparrows, which had scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, still hid in the darkness, afraid of him.

He tried various tactics: circling behind the birds to drive them toward the barn, tossing cracker crumbs in the air toward them, retreating to his house to see if they’d flutter into the barn on their own. Nothing worked. He, a huge alien creature, had terrified them; the birds could not understand that he actually desired to help.

He withdrew to his house and watched the doomed sparrows through a window. As he stared, a thought hit him like lightning from a clear blue sky: If only I could become a bird—one of them—just for a moment. Then I wouldn’t frighten them so. I could show them the way to warmth and safety. At the same moment, another thought dawned on him. He had grasped the whole principle of the Incarnation.

A man’s becoming a bird is nothing compared to God’s becoming a man. The concept of a sovereign being as big as the universe He created, confining Himself to a human body was—and is—too much for some people to believe.

—Paul Harvey[3]

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.

One of the most exciting things that you can do while celebrating Jesus’ birthday is to make it your spiritual birthday as well. You can accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation right now.

Watch this:

Video from youtube or maybe the end of The Nativity Story: (Below connects with the death and resurrection)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7blH2wZ69bE

 

 

 

[1] The New International Version. 2011 (Lk 2:19). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Micah 5:2

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 294–295.

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Cantata Sunday, meditations in between choir anthems

 

First Anthem:

Glory to God (Luke 2:14):

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace on earth,
goodwill towards men.

Pastor’s words:

That particular choir anthem comes from Luke 2:14.

Luke 2:14 comes from Luke 2:8-14 which reads:

 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

  1. Jesus has been born.
    1. This passage follows the birth of Jesus according to Luke.
    2. Jesus has been born and lain in a feeding trough. Mary and Joseph are the new parents. They are young and most likely scared.
    3. They must be very nervous.
    4. Now, we come to verses 8-14.
  2. Verses 8-14: in verses 8-14 we read about the angels visiting the shepherds.
    1. Shepherds, you know that shepherds were the lowest class? They were disrespected. They were looked down upon. They did the dirty work. They missed out on certain religious events. Yet, the angel comes to shepherds.
    2. Verse 9 says that an angel of the Lord appeared to them. Now, the text actually reads “suddenly” an angel of the Lord came upon them.
      1. Imagine yourself in the middle of a vast opened field and all of a sudden an angel is in front of you.
      2. By the way, this angel was not one of those girly angels you see in paintings or in stores. Angels are not like that. Angels are warriors. Verse 9 says they were terrified.
  • The angel says do not be afraid. I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all people.
  1. Jesus entering the world was good news and great joy. This was good news for all people. This was and is good news for all people. This is news for the shepherds and the Caesars. This was news for the poor and the rich, the privileged and those who are not privileged.
  1. The angels finish their message and then there was a company of angels and they were worshipping God.
  2. Notice that? Notice their response to what is happening. They worship God. They said, “Glory to God in the highest.” You know, I bet they said more than that. I think these shepherds were so overwhelmed that that is all they could understand. These angels worshipped the birth of Christ.
  3. Now, the shepherds, they don’t waste time, they head to Bethlehem.
  4. As these shepherds came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus, I bet that encouraged Joseph and Mary.

Let me pray and then we will hear from the choir again.

Anthem:

And the Glory of the Lord from the Messiah (Isaiah 40:5)

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it
Together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it
.

Pastor’s words:

There is a term at the end of 1 Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 16:22 and that is Maranatha! Maranatha means: “Our Lord Come.”

I was listening to a cancer survivor and she said “Darn, or, curse, the fall, come Lord Jesus.” 

The previous choir anthem comes from Isaiah 40:5, allow me to place that in context. Let’s read Isaiah 40:1-5:

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed,
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”

A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah chapter 40 is a chapter of transition. In the previous chapter Isaiah had given prophesies against Israel. Isaiah had said that Babylon was going to take the sons of King Hezekiah as captive. Starting in Isaiah 40 God is encouraging the people.

In verse 3 God talks about A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

In Mark chapter 1 he applies this passage to John the baptizer.  John the baptizer was a voice of one crying in the wilderness preparing the way for the Messiah. John prepared the way for Jesus.

In verse 5 Isaiah is likely talking about the millennial reign. Isaiah was thinking of the millennial kingdom when the Lord will be revealed in His glory, that is, when His unique splendor will be evident everywhere. [1]

How awesome this will be when the glory of the Lord will be revealed! How magnificent! How wondrous!

This will be a joyous occasion.

Actually, Joy to the World was written about a time when Christ was born but also when Christ returns and reigns over the whole earth.

Let’s apply before we move on:

  1. What is most important about this season?
  2. Do we look forward to the coming of Jesus?
    1. Jesus came as a baby, lived, was crucified, rose again, He ascended and He will come again.
    2. Can we say with Paul in 1 Cor. 16:22, Maranatha?
  3. May we have joy because of Jesus.
  4. May we look forward to the glory of the Lord being revealed.

Let’s pray

Anthem:

O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion

Isaiah 40:9

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain;

O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength;

Lift it up, be not afraid;

Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God![2]

Pastor’s words:

The verse in the previous choir anthem seems to be looking forward to the return of the Jewish exiles and the millennial reign.

Do we have reasons to rejoice? The world appears to be falling apart, but as Christians we have reasons to rejoice. We can also say, “Behold your God”!

I want to reference another hymn, it is called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Do you know the background to that hymn? Listen as I read it:

In 1864, one of America’s great poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote the poem which became the well-known carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. When I first heard this song, I wondered, “Why does he suddenly shift from joy at hearing the Christmas bells into such deep despair?” It starts with:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Then he says:
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

The question is clearly answered when we see two verses of the original that are not included in our hymn. In these verses Longfellow speaks of the horrors of the American Civil War that was tearing the country apart. In fact, his son had been seriously wounded in that conflict not long before he wrote the song. (The death of Longfellow’s wife two years earlier may have contributed to his mood too.) Listen to what they say:
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearthstones of a continent
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Little wonder he is tempted to despair. And yet he concludes with the resounding affirmation, “God is not dead, nor does he sleep!” Through the Savior whose birth the angels celebrated, God will accomplish what he has promised.

Do we believe that? God has and He WILL accomplish what He promised.

Let’s pray

Choir anthem:

Hallelujah

Benedictions

[1] John A. Martin, “Isaiah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1092.

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Is 40:9.

The Story of Christmas, Jesus will be Born and He Saves

Sunday, December 16, 2018: The Story of Christmas (Matt 1:18-25)

I am looking forward to the children’s Christmas play in a few moments. After all, Jesus did come as a baby. God became one of us, not as an adult, but as a baby. But there are lessons here for adults as well. I want to talk for a few minutes about the Christmas story.

Christmas is coming and is almost here. How are you doing? Are you ready?

A lady had a circle of friends for whom she really wanted to buy Christmas presents. Time slipped away and it was so busy at work for her she just wasn’t able to get to the store to purchase those gifts. Time was running out. So not too many days before Christmas she decided to give up on the gift idea and just buy everybody the same beautiful Christmas card. She went to the local gift store and hurriedly went through the now picked over stack of cards and found a box of fifty, just exactly what she wanted. She didn’t take time to read the message, she just noticed a beautiful cover on it and there was gold around it and a floral appearance on the front of the card and she thought, That’s perfect. So she signed all of them, “With all my love.”

As New Year’s came and she had time to go back to two or three cards she didn’t send from that stack, she was shocked to read the message inside. It said, in a little rhyme, “This Christmas card is just to say, a little gift is on its way.”[1]

I hope you have not faced that type of experience. Regardless of how ready you are in purchasing gifts and sending out cards, I assure you that you can be ready by knowing Jesus, the true meaning of Christmas.

Let’s read Matthew 1:18-25:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Watch this clip

Nativity Story: Angel coming to Joseph

My theme today is: Jesus our hope will be born, He saves us and He is with us.

  1. Jesus will be born.
    1. They were waiting for a Savior and He was to be born.
    2. This is an amazing prophesy to Joseph. Here he has just received the news that his fiancé is pregnant and not by him, but now he finds out this baby is the Messiah. Wow!
    3. Joseph went from gloom to hope.
      1. What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
        1. Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
        2. Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
        3. Hope energizes when the body is tired.
        4. Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
        5. Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
        6. Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
        7. Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
        8. Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
        9. Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.
        10. Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
        11. Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
        12. Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
        13. Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
        14. Hope brings the victory when no one is winning. (John Maxwell from Think on These Things)
  1. Joseph had hope and so do we. Jesus is our hope.
  2. Jesus will save us from our sins.
    1. What brings salvation?
    2. What are you trusting in?
    3. Sometimes we think we don’t even need a Savior. Realize that when we mess with salvation we are trifling with the holiness of God. We need salvation because we sinned against a holy, righteous God.
    4. We need a Savior because of God’s holiness and when we say things such as “Everyone goes to Heaven with or without Jesus, or we say, “there is no hell.” This means that we are messing with the cross, yes, but we are also messing with the holiness of God. We are changing all of Scripture, we are changing the whole Old Testament. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
    5. Jesus saves.
  • Jesus will be Immanuel, which means God with us.
    1. Do you ever feel alone? I remember being in 6th grade I played football. I was dropped off at a game and my parents drove away and then I thought I needed something and it was too late, my parents were gone. I felt all alone. I can go back a few years earlier. I must have watched children cry when my mom dropped my older brother off at preschool. I thought I wouldn’t do that. I always saw the children get dropped off at preschool and they cried and cried and cried. I remember that fear when my mom dropped me off and I cried as well. Fast forward some 15 years. My parents dropped me off at college in Georgia and drove away and I think we all cried. What is it like being alone? We are not alone. We have God with us.
    2. Think of how amazing it is that God is with us as Christians.
    3. You and I, we are not alone.

Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Are you committed to Him?

What do you do with the Christmas message?

I’m sure that some of you are visitors and this is your first time here. I am sure that some of you used to attend regularly and you have lost the habit.

Whether you are part of the church or not, my question for you is: Do you Know Jesus as Lord and Savior and are you committed to him?

The Bible uses four verbs to describe the Christian life, they are: Believe, confess, commit and trust. Let me explain:

  1. The Bible teaches that we must believe in Jesus. We must believe that He is who the Bible says He is. The Bible teaches that He was born of a virgin; He lived a sinless life and died on the cross for our sins and He rose triumphantly over the grave (John 3:16; 14:6; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5:17 and 21).
  2. The Bible teaches that we must confess that we are in need of forgiveness. This means that we must confess that we are a sinner in need of a Savior. In other words, we have done wrong things and we need forgiven (Romans 3:23; 6:23 10:9-10). We tell God this.
  3. The Bible teaches that we must commit to Jesus as Lord and Savior. This means we are not simply fans of Jesus, but instead we are followers of Jesus. Fans stay on the sidelines, but Jesus calls us to be on the field with Him. Jesus told them to count the cost before committing to Him (Luke 14:27-33).
  4. The Bible teaches that we must trust The belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior is not a casual belief, but a firm trust (1 Timothy 1:15; John 3:16).

 

Prayer

Invite the children up

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 81.

Keep Christ in Christmas (Matthew 2:1-12)

Keep Christ in Christmas, part 2 (Matthew 2:1-12)

Pastor Steve Rhodes

Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, December 9, 2018

Is it possible to go through the Christmas season and miss Christmas?

A lady had taken her five-year-old son shopping at a large department store during the Christmas season. She knew it would be fun for him to see all the decorations and window displays and toys and Santa Claus. As she dragged him by the hand, twice as fast as his little legs could move, he began to fuss and cry, clinging to his mother’s coat. “Good heavens, what on earth is the matter with you?” She scolded, impatiently. “I brought you with me to get in the Christmas spirit. Santa doesn’t bring toys to little crybabies!”

His fussing continued as she tried to find some bargains during the last minute rush on December 23. “I’m not going to take you shopping with me, ever again, if you don’t stop that whimpering! Oh well, maybe it’s because your shoes are untied and you are tripping over your own laces,” she said, kneeling down in the aisle to tie his shoes.

And as she knelt down beside him, she happened to look around. For the first time, she viewed the department store through the eyes of her five-year-old. From that position there were no baubles, no bangles, beads, presents, gaily decorated display tables, or animated toys. All that could be seen was a maze of corridors too high to see above, full of giant stovepipe legs and huge posteriors. These mountainous strangers, with feet as big as skateboards, were pushing and shoving and bumping and thumping and rushing and crushing. Rather than fun, the scene looked absolutely terrifying! She elected to take her child home and vowed to herself never to impose her version of a good time on him again. On the way out of the store, the mother noticed Santa Claus seated in a pavilion decorated like the North Pole. She knew that letting her little boy meet Santa Claus in person would go a long way toward his remembering the Christmas shopping disaster as a pleasant, rather than unpleasant, experience.

“Honey, go stand in line with the other children, and then sit up on Santa’s lap,” she continued.” Tell him what you want for Christmas, and smile while you’re talking so we can take your picture for the family album.”

Even though a Santa Claus was standing outside the store entrance ringing a bell, and although they had seen another Santa at the previous shopping center, the little five-year-old was pushed forward to enjoy a personal chat with the “real Santa.”

When the strange-looking man with the beard, glasses, and red suit stuffed with pillows hoisted the little boy onto his lap, he laughed loudly and tickled the little boy in the ribs.

“And what would you like for Christmas, son?” Santa boomed jovially.       

“I’d like to get down,” was the little boy’s response.[1]

If you watch television, in Christmas is not about Christ. Watch this:

Elf: Santa’s an imposter:

https://youtu.be/9tIcnydrwFY

We can watch many classic movies and see what Christmas may be about. Think about them:

It’s A Wonderful Life: nothing about Jesus

A Christmas Story: nothing about Jesus

A Christmas Carol: nothing about Jesus

What about television? Little House on the Prairie hardly has Christ in Christmas.

We could go on and on.

As we see these we can realize why the Puritans outlawed Christmas. Christmas was no longer about Jesus. We, as Christians, must make sure our view of Christmas is from the Bible and we keep Christ in Christmas.

Once again, I want to talk to you about keeping Christ in Christmas.

My theme today is keep Christ in Christmas

I want to look at Matthew 2 and show you people who missed Christmas. Don’t be like them. Don’t miss Christmas.

Let’s read Matthew 2:1-12:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

  1. Herod missed Jesus (Matthew 2:1ff).
    1. Herod was afraid of another king. Herod was the local king of Jerusalem. Herod was not even Jewish as he was an Edomite which means he was a descendant of Esau. Jewish kings were to be descendants of David.
    2. Herod not only missed Christmas, Matt 2:16 tells us that Herod killed children 2 and under. Herod was so afraid of another king that he slaughtered the children of that age range.
    3. Now, what about you? Have you missed Christmas? I know you might be able to say, “I am here.” But have you really made Jesus Lord? There are many people who want Jesus as a resource or a nice spiritual friend, or even someone to keep us out of hell. But these same people do not want to make Jesus King and call Him Lord.
    4. It is not too late. We should worship Jesus as Lord every day of the year. We should celebrate His birth, life and resurrection every day of the year.
    5. Some of us may have the Herod problem, we do not want another King. We want to be King of our own life. If that is the case we miss Christmas, just like Herod. We will not bow to King Jesus.
  2. The teachers of the law and priests missed Christmas. In Matthew 2:3-4 Herod called them together and asked them where the Messiah was to be born and they responded, “In Bethlehem of Judea…”
    1. They knew this. They had to have known why Herod asked. Why did they not go and look for the Messiah?
    2. I think they were obviously indifferent. They were happy as religious scholars.
    3. Please don’t be indifferent. Acknowledge Christmas. Don’t let the busyness of this time of year rob you of the joy of this time of year.
    4. I think this is an important example of what we face. Many of us become indifferent to Jesus.
    5. So, what happens? Instead of making Jesus the center of Christmas we let culture dictate what Christmas is all about. Our family pays the price. We make Christmas about materialism and NOT about Jesus. We make Christmas about family, which is good, but we neglect Jesus, and that is not good.
    6. It is not too late. Change now, keep Christ in Christmas. Don’t be indifferent to Christ. We do not want Christ to be indifferent to us, do we?
  • I bet that is not all. It appears from Scripture that the people living in the immediate vicinity of the birth of Jesus missed Christmas. He was born in a stable.
    1. Certainly, we know that Mary and Joseph could not find a room. Everyone just went on with their normal life. They were arguing in the streets about the census and missed Christmas. They were arguing about who’s donkey hit who’s donkey and who was at fault and they missed Christmas. They did not notice. They were oblivious that the Savior was being born. They missed Christmas.
    2. I know, I know, they didn’t know any better. No one knew the importance of this baby. They were mostly not accountable, but you are.
    3. You now know. You know the importance of Christmas. Keep Christ in Christmas.
  1. We miss Christmas too. Respond like the magi in verses 10-11.
    1. We need to worship Jesus. These magi came from the east. They had a long journey and they did not miss Christmas. They likely traveled for over a year. They sacrificed. Let’s think of some ideas to keep Christ in Christmas.
    2. Here is an idea, The Nativity Story is a movie that keeps Christ in Christmas. Watch that as a family this year.
    3. Institute family devotions during this Christmas season.
    4. Start praying as a family this Christmas season.
    5. Serve at the Rescue Mission, Heartreach Ministries or the Pregnancy Help Center. Don’t just send money, help in-person. I once heard someone say that his family would serve at a Homeless Shelter on the holidays. It is hard for them to get volunteers on holidays.
    6. Keep Christ in Christmas.

Jesus’ birth changed the world. Don’t miss Jesus. Keep Christ in Christmas.

Please don’t allow the busyness of life, the Christmas shopping, the family get-togethers and everything else keep you from the importance of Christmas.

This dog didn’t miss Christmas:

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 83. Exerted from Denis Waitley, Seeds of Greatness.

Jesus’ birth changed the world. Don’t miss Jesus. Keep Christ in Christmas.

Please don’t allow the busyness of life, the Christmas shopping, the family get-togethers and everything else to keep you from the importance of Christmas.

John 3:16 for God so loved you that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Do you believe that? It is something amazing!

Pray

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus forever. (Rev. 22:5)

 

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 83. Exerted from Denis Waitley, Seeds of Greatness.