Tag Archives: Christmas

December 25; The Reason

Hebrews 13; I John 1-2

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

As we celebrate the Baby in the manger today, let’s not overlook why God became a flesh and blood baby 2000 years ago. The Apostle John tells us this:

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (I John 1:8b)

We call it a season of love, of hope, and peace. And it is absolutely all of that! God’s love motivated Him, and love is a byproduct of His appearing. Hope is ours because He came, and peace the world cannot understand rests within His children because that Baby born in Bethlehem grew up to die.

We celebrate everything that Christmas represents. But let’s not forget Jesus came because of the ugliness of sin. Your sin. And mine. Jesus came to destroy Satan’s hold on us. This precious Baby was born to save.

I pray you will realize the seriousness of the season as well as the joy of it all. The reason Jesus was born is…

YOU!

December 23; Our High Priest’s Birthday

Hebrews 7:1-10:18

Melchizedek is a curious fellow. He appears in Scripture for a few verses, then promptly disappears. We don’t know where he came from, or where he went after talking to Abraham. He was a priest, but not from the tribe of Levi. Curious.

Yet the writer of Hebrews compares Jesus to this mysterious Old Testament priest. He tells us in 7:16 that Melchizedek represents the “one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry, but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.”

Jesus was descended from Judah, not Levi. And with Him came a new and better covenant than the one God had previously made with Israel. (vs 22)

No more animal sacrifices. No more need of any priest to enter the Presence of God on our behalf. Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate, perfect sacrifice for us all, then He sat down at the right hand of God in heaven where He serves as our High Priest in that sanctuary set up by the Lord, not by man.

I hope you’ll read these chapters in Hebrews today. As we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s do so with the knowledge of what His birth meant. Let’s thank Him that the baby didn’t stay in the manger, but grew up to be our sacrifice. Jesus was born to die.

But He is not dead. Right now, today, this very minute He is sitting next to the Father and interceding for you and me. He is praying for us. Does that make you want to fall at His feet in humble praise and thanksgiving? Does that make you want to love Him like He deserves to be loved, obeyed like He demands, and serve Him in any way you can? It does me.

I want to say “Happy Birthday Jesus, my Savior, my King, my amazing High Priest. I love you!”

 

December 22; A Christmas Story

Hebrews 2-6

Ah, Christmas! The time of year when the birth of the Messiah Jesus is celebrated all over the world. Oh, you can pretend it’s about Santa, gifts, love, family, whatever. But the reality is we are in the midst of a birthday celebration – the birth that changed the world.

Christmas marks the day when God made Himself a little lower than angels, when our Creator put on flesh and blood and began life as a human so that He could die for His creation.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tested, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (2:14-18)

That was God’s plan from the beginning. And the birth of Jesus sets God’s plan in motion. That’s what we are celebrating this time of year.

The writer of Hebrews tells us, then, to fix our thoughts on Jesus. Don’t harden your hearts against the Truth, he says. And the Truth is: Christ the Savior is born! The baby whose birthday we celebrate was born for you. Believing in Jesus, accepting what He did for you ushers you into His rest.

So here’s my 2019 Christmas story: I’ve been in knots the last two days. I’ve ordered gifts for my five great-nephews, and they still haven’t been delivered (almost a week past the promised delivery date). When I finally got hold of the company, I was told the gifts aren’t even out of the facility yet – IN CHINA! Because the only communication I have with them is email, I’m having trouble cancelling that order. Grrrr.

So I went on Amazon, and ordered five similar gifts all with the estimate delivery dates of December 23-24. I know, I’m cutting it close. But then last night I got an email saying two of the gifts won’t be delivered until the 29th. I can feel my blood pressure rising just typing this latest snag.

I share this to confess to you my thoughts have not been on Jesus. I’m obsessing about gifts the boys will probably enjoy for about ten minutes before they move on to something else, because all of them have more toys than they could ever use in a day. They certainly don’t NEED another toy.

Yet my thoughts have been on the toys. I couldn’t sleep last night worrying about it, picturing those sweet children not having anything to open from Aunt Connie. Then this morning I read what the writer of Hebrews had to say and I have to think, so what if they don’t have anything to open from me on Christmas? It’s not like it will force them into therapy when they’re older. It won’t be the end of the world.

Of course gift-giving is part of Christmas fun, and I’m certainly not proposing we stop giving gifts. But in the hustle and bustle of the season, let’s not forget what we are celebrating. Let’s not lose our focus. Let’s not get caught up in the Xmas the world is celebrating, but stop and worship the Christ of Christmas.

The truly wonderful, amazing, life-changing Christmas story is Jesus. Merry Christmas, dear readers.

December 6; Giving the Most Precious Gift

Romans 8:18-11:10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…foe “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

I hope you remember that experience in your own life, the day you confessed and believed that Jesus is the risen Savior, the day you became a child of God as you called on the name of the Lord. I hope you think about that day often, and celebrate the truth that your sins are forgiven, and eternity with God is ahead.

We are in the midst of getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Most of us have our shopping lists, the names of loved ones written next to the ideal gift we plan to give them. But Christmas is more than that, isn’t it? It is about Jesus.

If you have not called on the name of the Lord, and allowed Him to forgive your sins, to rescue you from eternity without Him, let me encourage you to do that today. In the hustle and bustle of the season, take a minute, and picture that baby lying in a manger surrounded by shepherds, kings, and angels. And understand there is only one gift He wants. He wants you.

You are the most precious gift you could ever give to Jesus, the one who loves you more than you know.

1&2 Peter; Too Late

Can you celebrate the birth of Jesus and ignore the fact that He is coming again? He first came as a baby boy, grew to be a man, rocked the world at that time, and continues to rock our world after His death on the cross, and resurrection.

Christmas is not just a birthday. It’s the beginning of the end. Jesus will come again, and Peter reminds us it will be a day of reckoning. Are you ready?

I hope your Christmas holiday will be blessed with happiness and precious moments with family and friends. But I also hope – no, I pray – that when you consider that baby in a manger, you will consider how His birth has impacted you. That baby was born for love of you. That baby was born to save you.

Do you now Him? I pray you do. But if you’ve never confessed your sin and allowed Him to forgive you through the blood of Jesus, do it today. I can’t imagine a better birthday gift to give that Baby Jesus, than your heart.

Because He is coming again. It could be today. And when He comes it will be too late for you to suddenly accept what He died to give you.

May you celebrate the birth of YOUR Savior this season.

James; Humility

Jesus, whose birth we are about to celebrate, was born in a stable, then laid in a feeding trough. The King of Kings didn’t start his life on planet Earth in a palace. His beginnings were nothing to brag about.

James talks to us about being humble. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (4:6b) “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord…” (4:10a)

As I think about Christmas 2018, it occurs to me that if Jesus could humble Himself, who am I to stand tall? Who am I to build myself up, to brag, or strive for a sense of self-worth? Everything good in my life comes from God, not by my own effort. And if I’m honest, I am nothing compared to Him.

I think that reality trips some people up today, when society tells us to believe in ourselves, to nurture self-esteem, to celebrate our “selves.” But the truth is, when we humble ourselves, when we empty ourselves and submit to God, “He will exalt (us).” (4:10b)

Jesus’ humble birth set the standard by which He lived. It’s the standard by which I want to live my life as well.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to Earth the way You did. You gave up everything to be born that day. You submitted to the Father 100%. So when You tell us to humble ourselves, you aren’t asking us to do anything You didn’t do Yourself first. Forgive us when we fall for Satan’s lie that tells us to exalt ourselves. May we humble ourselves, and let you do the exalting. Help us to trust You with our “selves.”

Colossians; Chains and Open Doors

Paul is in prison. Although he is afforded some privileges, he is still chained to a wall, guarded 24/7. This letter to Colossi was written from that prison.

Paul speaks of Jesus, and points to the fact that our salvation, our redemption comes through Jesus only. He warns about mystical thinking, legalism, and the very real temptation to fall for religious sounding teaching that, in reality, is false religion. He encourages us to stand firm. I love 2:6-7:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

We need not only to know Christ, but to grow in Him through reading His Word and in prayer. Our roots need to grow deep in the Truth.

Colossians is a quick read. But I hope you’ll read it twice, let the words sink in, let your roots grow deep.

Something struck me today. I guess I’m still thinking about this season of year that can be so hard for some. Family drama, financial woes, a fearful diagnosis has some people wanting a fast-forward button. Just get me through the next few weeks, Lord.

But here Paul, in chains, asks the Colossians to pray for him. And how does he ask them to pray?

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (4:3-4)

He doesn’t ask them to pray that he’d get out of jail. He didn’t ask them to pray that his troubles would cease. He asked them to pray that God would give him an open door for ministry – not an open door to the outside.

I wonder if that couldn’t be our prayer this Christmas, too. Instead of asking God to fix our circumstances, what if we asked Him to open a door to share the true meaning of the season while our circumstances are holding us captive? What if we asked God to help us look for ways to serve Him in spite of what is going on in our lives at the moment? What if we asked God to change our sorrow to joy so that people will see the supernatural power of God in us?

Christmas holds such an amazing truth I don’t want us to forget. God Himself became a human, a baby born about as poor as a church mouse. God Himself left heaven, and chained Himself to a flesh and blood body so that He could die for sinners. God so loved the world that He came, He grew up and shared His heart with us, He died, and rose again so that we can know Him now and in eternity.

Let’s pray that God will give us opportunities to share this wonderful truth with people during the next few weeks. Instead of focusing on our chains, let’s pray for open doors.

Philippians; If You Think It, You Can Be It

There are some motivational speakers and authors who preach the power of our thoughts. “If you think it, you can be it.”

Now, I’m not discounting the fact that our thoughts have a lot to do with how we feel, and our feelings contribute to what we do. Typically, thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions. So imagining myself CEO of the company might help me to feel confident, which will give me the courage to take on those hard projects that will get noticed by those in charge. Even the Bible tells us how important is our thought-life.

This time of year, when so much focus in put on family and friendships, can be hard for some people. The loss of a loved one still feels like a knife to the heart. The empty chair, whether through death, or anger, or neglect, seems the focal point of the whole house. Every Hallmark movie, every Christmas song on the radio, every card that comes (or doesn’t come) in the mail reminds us of what is wrong.

And we get sadder, or angrier, or lonelier than we were the day before. We remember the harsh words said in our last conversation. We replay happier times, and tell ourselves we will never be that happy again. Our thoughts can swallow us whole.

But here’s some good news. Paul tells us God offers peace. Not just in good times. Paul simply says, “And the God of peace WILL BE WITH YOU.” (4:9, emphasis mine)

How? How can I find peace when my heart is broken, when anger or regret or hurt feelings occupy 90% of my day? The answer is here in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He says think instead on these things:

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (4:8)

Do you want peace in your heart and life? Then think about what is true. Not just about your situation, although that is certainly important. Think about what is true about God. Turn your thoughts away from yourself, and toward Him.

Think about what is noble and right. Take the high road. You might be the one who needs to swallow your pride, to reach out to that one with whom you are estranged. It’s Jesus’ example that we show love to those who are not loving toward us. It’s the right thing to do.

Think about what is pure, lovely, and admirable. Don’t let your thoughts sink to the gutter. Don’t wish someone ill. Don’t keep reminding yourself how unfair you think they’ve been. Get rid of anger, selfish ambition, jealousy, evil.

Think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Has God blessed you? Then think about that. Talk to Him about how thankful you are for what He has given you, without mentioning what you think He should give you. Praise Him for who He is to you.

Scripture tells us if we get a handle on our thoughts, the God of peace will be with us.

If you’re okay with feeling depressed, lonely, or angry this Christmas, then don’t change anything. But if you want to experience God’s peace, I’ll go so far as to promise His joy, then change your thoughts.

When Satan would nudge you with negativity, turn it into praise. Think instead on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable. “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy…” think about those things instead.

If you want God’s peace, you can have it. Think about it.

December 25 – Grow In Grace

2 Peter; Jude

We celebrate the birth of Jesus today. I pray you’ve enjoyed going to church, singing the beautiful Christmas songs, reading Luke 2, and opening gifts with those you love. It’s a magical day. It’s a holy day.

God Himself took on the form of a needy newborn, and perfectly grew to become the Sacrifice for all of us. God, in flesh and blood! It’s beyond wonderful.

Peter reminds us this same Jesus is coming again. Not as another baby, but with power and glory. The heavens and earth that we enjoy today, will melt away, and we who know Him will see a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells.

Meanwhile, the apostle encourages us to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” to be on guard, and to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18a)

My prayer on this Christmas Day is that you will allow this baby whose birth we are celebrating to do what He came to do. May you know the peace that comes from bowing to the Savior. May you love and serve Him who loved you all the way to the cross.

To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (3:18)

December 24 – Treasure The Gift

2 Timothy

Twice in chapter one, Paul says something to Timothy that got my attention this Christmas Eve morning. First, in verse 6 he tells the young preacher to “Kindle afresh the gift of God.”  Then in verse 14 Timothy is told to “Guard… The treasure which has been intrusted to you.”

Are your presents wrapped and under the tree waiting for the family gathering when those things, bought with those special people in mind, will be revealed? I finished wrapping my gifts yesterday and I’m looking forward to going to church tonight, then going to my sister’s house where we will open those treasures and enjoy watching the grandkids’ excitement.

What if you’d spent everything you have on a gift for the one you love? Wouldn’t you hope they’d at least appreciate it? You’d probably want them to love it, cherish it, protect it, show it off. You’d want them to use it correctly and carefully. You wouldn’t buy it expecting them to discard or abuse it, or set it aside and neglect it. Would you? I mean it cost you everything.

This weekend we are celebrating the most precious gift you’ve ever been given. And yes, it cost Jesus everything to buy it for you. He bought it wanting you to receive it with joy, to treasure the gift of forgiveness that cost Him His own blood.

Paul tells Timothy in chapter two to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”, to be a good soldier, a fit athlete, a hard working farmer. In speaking to Timothy he tells us not to be ashamed, to be diligent, avoid worldly and empty chatter. I hope you read this letter to Timothy. It contains the owners manual for the gift God gave you through His Son.

We’ll celebrate the birth of the Savior this weekend. But we are celebrating not just a birth. We’re celebrating a life, and a death. We are celebrating the free gift of salvation this Baby was born to purchase for us. My prayer is that we will guard this gift, treasure this gift, use it and share it just like God intends for us to do.

Merry Christmas, dear ones.