GOD’ S VIEW OF CHRISTMAS

Extended reading: Revelation 12

Devotional reading: Verses 10-12

When you think of the Christmas season and what it means, do you think of it in the terms written out for us in Revelation 12? Probably not. We are so accustomed to thinking about a cute baby in a manger, wise men with gifts, and angels singing out in the fields with shepherds that we most likely miss God’s view of the Christmas story.

“The birth of Christ and Satan’s opposition to the event are graphically depicted in this scene. Jesus, the messiah, was born into this world to implement God’s plan for the world’s restoration. Satan had planted the destructive effects of sin into God’s good creation by tempting Adam and Eve to sin. So as Jesus was born to reverse the effects of that sin, Satan did all he could to destroy the infant savior” (remember what Herod did? Matthew 2:16-18).

“Thankfully, Satan was unsuccessful, and the future Ruler of the world was able to complete His earthly mission. As much as Satan desires to thwart God’s overall plan, he cannot stop God’s plan of salvation for us if we surrender our lives to Him by trusting Christ to pay for our sins.”

Some parts are adapted from “The every mans Bible.”

BUMPER STICKER THEOLOGY

While shopping online for some Christmas gifts these past few days, I had come across many quaint and quippy slogans or mantras that have been pasted on everything from pens to cars. You know what I mean, you have been seeing these things in your holiday shopping as well. And it’s not just something new that retailers are doing this year, they have been doing it for as long as I can remember.

Some of these slogans are cute or funny. Some are true, some false; some political, some apolitical. Some are religious and therefore deserve a bit more scrutiny than the others because they invoke scripture in many cases. So, I began looking at these slogans with a more biblical focus, rather than entertaining eyes and here are a few that unnerved me the most.

NUMBER 1

This is a play off of the ”got milk” slogan from a few years back. This one makes me twitch because RELIGION never saved anybody! Untold millions of people ”got religion” of one stripe or another, and they are going to hell. Why, because they don’t have Jesus Christ! A better sign would be ”IN Christ?”

Number 2

This one just makes it appear that Christians may not be able to come all the way and love like Christ Jesus loves. That forgiveness with Christ is possible but perhaps not with us! This sticker fails in portraying the ”love your neighbor as yourself” teaching of scripture.

NUMBER 3

Need I say anything? Try Jesus? Like we try different food items? Like we try out various sports? Try Him out like we would the millions of self-help theologies out there? The bible says: ”Look unto me and be saved.” ”That whosoever believeth in me.” ”repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

We do not try Jesus out to see if He fits our choosing. We humble ourselves under His mighty hand so thankful HE CHOSE US!

NUMBER 4

This one is a play off of the Coke logo. Just what does it mean that enjoying Jesus Christ relieves thirst? I have been In Christ for 30 years and I have been thirsty everyday of my life! Spiritually speaking the statement is more confusing. ”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). Do I believe the bible or the bumper sticker? Just joking, the Bible always!

NUMBER 5

This one appears to be using the Christmas story, and in particular, the wise men from the east who arrived in Jerusalem looking for the ”King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-2). The problem that should be obvious with this sticker is that the Bible tells us that ”there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God” (Romans 3:11).

Paul is speaking about sin fallen human beings lefts to themselves and without divine intervention. I do not think the writer of this bumper sticker had that in mind!

These are a few that irked me more than most. Perhaps you have some you would like to share, I would be happy to hear from you.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas.

CHRISTMAS IN GENESIS

Extended reading: Genesis 3

Devotional reading: verse 15

And I will [a]make enemies
Of you and the woman,
And of your [b]offspring and her [c]Descendant;
He shall [d]bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise Him on the heel.”

Genesis 3 gives us an account of the process of temptation and mankind’s fall into sin. Not quite the place where you would expect a Christmas story. But without this historical account and its prophetic view of the complete destruction of the evil one, the story of the virgin birth, ministry of Christ; His death on a cross and resurrection from the grave, would make absolutely little sense.

“In His grace,  God promised that the off-spring of the woman would defeat Satan. He promised that He would take charge of the redemption of their lives and overcome the enemy. This is good news- the first mention of the gospel of grace that would eventually be fulfilled by the coming of Jesus, the Messiah.”

As one Christmas song rightly concludes, Christmas is about the cross!

PRAYER: Father, we thank you for keeping your word and sending your Son Jesus to redeem mankind from the bondage of sin. There is no greater gift we can receive than that which you have already given, Baby Jesus, Emmanuel! Amen.

THE OTHER CHRISTMAS TREE

When I trim the tree for Christmas
It reminds me of a tree
that held a special present
Jesus bought with love for me.

He was born a tiny baby
laid within a manger bed
but the angels told the story-
He is Christ the Lord, they said.

He lived in humble service
Till the age of thirty-three,
Then the God-man of Christmas
Gave His life for you and me.

From a stable to a hillside-
He was born that all may hear-
There is a tree of Christmas
That the eyes of faith revere.

Sing the joyful news of Christmas
Christ was born to set us free-
For He died to bring salvation
on the other Christmas tree.

By: Connie Faust

THEOLOGY OF CHRISTMAS (PART TWO)

In part one I laid the foundation of the Christmas story by tracing the will and word of God throughout the Old Testament, specifically the many prophecies foretold about the Messiah, Jesus Christ. THEOLOGY OF CHRISTMAS (PART 1) In this post I will show how those prophecies have been fulfilled and can only be fulfilled in one person: the man Christ Jesus! The true reason Christmas is to be celebrated.

The prophets prophesied throughout hundreds of years that this seed of a woman, heir of the throne of David, would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). They gave the time of His birth and revealed that it would be a supernatural one (Daniel 9:25; Isaiah 7:14). They foretold various events that would happen as a result of His birth: the slaughter of the innocents and Mary and Joseph, with baby Jesus, fleeing to Egypt (Jeremiah 31:15; Hosea 11:1). 

They also revealed that many people would not believe that Jesus was the the Son of God (Isaiah 53:1), that He would be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver (Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12), and be hated without reason (Psalm 35:19). There is a mountain of prophecies foretold by the prophets that all speak directly of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel (God is with us), and His first coming to deal with sin and defeat Satan; the death blow that was spoken of back in Genesis 3. We find that all these prophesies, spoken hundreds and hundreds of years before there fulfillment, are fulfilled in Jesus Christ as attested to in the New Testament. Many of these fulfillment’s are manifested in the gospel’s but some are evidenced in the Epistles as well (Hebrews 5:5-6; Romans 5:6,8; 15:3; Ephesians 4:8).

As the New Testament unfolds, after four hundred years of prophetic silence, we find that the last of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, appears on the scene. The angel of the Lord appeared to a man named Zacharias and informs him that, “your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John” (Luke 1:13). He is told that John would act in “the spirit and power of Elijah,” preparing the way for the Messiah (vs.17). This birth in itself was a miracle. The idea of two people who are very old conceiving a child is preposterous, when you leave out the divine intervention of God (Luke 1:11-20; 57-80)! The birth of John is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah 3:1, and yet the story gets even better! Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy the angel Gabriel was “sent by God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph. . .” (Luke 1:26-27). He tells her that she is richly blessed and that by an act of the Holy Spirt, she will conceive in her womb, a son, and His name shall be Jesus (Luke 1: 31-32). 

This is exactly what happens. The miracle is not the birth itself, birth’s happen everyday. What makes this birth different is that Mary had no relations (intercourse) with a man. The normal act of procreation did not take place in this instance. Mary remained a virgin even though she was pregnant! By a creative act of the Holy Spirit life is created and implanted within her womb (Luke 1:35). The life implanted in Mary’s womb is the very life that God said would come to redeem all things unto Himself (Romans 8:18-25)! This body is the one God specifically prepared for the Messiah (Hebrews 10:5-6: Psalm 40:6-8). It is the body God foreordained to fulfill His will in defeating the devil and his power over death (Genesis 3:15). The Son of God was not by nature “flesh and blood,” But He took upon Himself our nature so that He could provide redemption for mankind (Hebrews 2:14-18).

This is what makes Christmas so special. This is why we have baby Jesus in a manger surrounded by animals and shepherds on our lawns during the Christmas season. This is why Christians celebrate the incarnation of their savior. Believe it or not, the story of Christmas doesn’t end here!

Ultimately, the birth of Christ is about the cross of Christ (John 3:16)! Jesus came to reveal God to man, redeem man, and ultimately rule over the Fathers Kingdom in righteousness and truth (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:29; Revelation 20:11-22:21). Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would die as a “substitute” for sinners (Isaiah 53:5). That is what was on display on the cross of Calvary (Romans 5:6-8). Because of the finished work of Jesus believing sinners are freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day, the very presence of sin (Romans 3:25; 5:8-9). Through Christ redeemed sinners are declared righteous, are adopted into the family of God, and are given eternal life (Ephesians 3:20; John 10:27-28)!

  But He didn’t only die, He rose again (Mark 16:6-7; 1 Corinthians 15:4)! In resurrecting Jesus, God the Father confirmed that Jesus is His beloved son in whom He was well pleased (Matthew 3:17). His resurrection supplied proof that the Father had accepted His sacrifice, accepted His atoning work on the cross, and is a guarantee that there will be a future resurrection for all those who trust in Him (John 5:26-29; John 14:18-19; Romans 6:8-11)!

The Bible tells us that 40 days after His resurrection He ascended “physically” to be with His Father and will one day return to this earth the same way (Acts 1:9-11; Matthew 24:29-31)! No one knows exactly when He will return except the Father alone (Matthew 24:36), and so we are exhorted to be ready because that day and hour will come at a time when we are least expecting it (Matthew 24:43-44). Unlike His first coming (seeking and saving the lost), His second coming will be one of judgement (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

What a joy it is to know that our sins can be forgiven through Jesus. The greatest gift ever given was wrapped up in linen cloths and found lying in a feeding trough. Proclaimed by the angel to be the “Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Have you received this amazing and priceless gift? Do you know Jesus as your savior? Go here GOSPEL to learn more about this most precious of gifts.