1 The Questions Of Christmas
It is really hard to choose just one verse for a Christmas theme. I searched through the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke and found many wonderful verses. But when you really think about it, isn’t the whole Bible about the story of Christ? From the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, through God’s covenant with Abraham and David, and prophets of the ages like Isaiah, we read of the promise of “The Prince of Peace”. (Isaiah 9:6) So I began looking at the questions of a good story. “Who?” – “…thou shalt call his name JESUS” (Matthew 1:21) “What?” – “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) “When?” – “…when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman…” (Galatians 4:4) “Where?” – “…the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…” (Luke 2:4) But the one that has me stumped is the “Why?”. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 8:4, “What is man, that thou are mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” I believe the Christmas story because I believe the Bible, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37) But I cannot understand why God loved me so much He would send His Son to be born in a stable, to suffer and die for me. Enjoy your Christmas season. Remember “Who? What? When? and Where?” and be ever so thankful for the “Why?”.
“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” Luke 1:13
Let’s look at the characters of the Christmas story. We begin in the book of Luke with Zacharias, a priest. Gabriel appeared to him in the temple and he was troubled and afraid. The angel told him not to fear, that his prayer had been heard. He would have a son, named John, who would be special in the sight of God, “…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”. (Luke 1:17) Zacharias did not believe Gabriel and was made dumb, and not able to speak until John was born and named. We can’t judge Zacharias because how many times have we prayed for things and not believed it when God answered our prayer? How many times have we been afraid when God speaks to us? When Zacharias was finally able to speak, he praised God and was filled with the Holy Ghost and prophesied. This time “fear came on all that dwelt round about them…” (verse 65) Don’t quit praying, and don’t be afraid when God answers your prayers.
“And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.” Luke 1:19
We are looking at Gabriel as our next Christmas character, but we can actually go back to the Old Testament for the first mentioning of Gabriel by name. In Daniel 8:15 & 16 we read, “And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.” Gabriel was sent to Daniel to give him understanding. (Here, and again in Daniel 9:21.) Gabriel was sent from God to give Zacharias the good news that his prayer was heard. And in Luke 1:26 “… the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth”, he was sent to bring good tidings to Mary. He begins his message with, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28) and ends with, ”For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (verse 37) In all of these instances Gabriel was sent from God with a special message. Don’t forget the message of Christmas this year. Keep Christ first.
“And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:36 & 37
We read in verse 6 that Elisabeth was righteous and she walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But the next verse says that she was barren and old. She was living a good life. She was following God’s law. But she was barren and now she was old. Maybe you feel like you are living in God’s will, but you can’t see any fruits for your labor. There may be a friend that you have prayed for over the years and you feel like so much time has passed and your prayers will not be answered. Don’t give up. God gave Elisabeth a son in her old age. She rejoiced and her neighbors and cousins rejoiced with her. (verse 58) Keep praying. Keep living a holy life. God can still save lost souls. God still answers prayers. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” Luke 1:30
Today I want to look at Mary… Mary who was “highly favoured”… Mary who was chosen to be the mother of our Savior. She listened to all that Gabriel had to say. “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) She believed, and she was willing to do God’s will. She rejoiced and said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” When God shows us His will, how do we react? When God tells me what He wants me to do, do I believe Him? Am I willing to let God use me? Do we rejoice when God wants to use our lives? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the angel could say to us as he said to Mary, “thou hast found favour with God”? Seek God’s will this Christmas. Let God make you a blessing to someone.
6 Caesar Augustus
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” Luke 2:1
You may be wondering what Caesar Augustus had to do with The Christmas Story. He probably never knew that he even played a part. This Roman Emperor thought he ruled the whole world and he did not care about a small Jewish family. But God used this ruler to send Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem to fulfill His prophecy. Way back in time, in the little book of Micah, we read that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2) God can use anyone or anything to fulfill His Word. He can use you. And, even more, He can use those around you for your good, and they may not even know it.
“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” Matthew 1: 24 & 25
We don’t know very much about Joseph. If we were writing a Christmas play, we would have a speech for Elisabeth, Mary, and Zacharias from the first chapter in Luke. We have verses spoken by the angels, Simeon, Anna, and even a line for the shepherds in Luke chapter 2. And maybe I have just overlooked it, but I don’t see any quotes from Joseph. What I do see is his faith. If Gabriel appeared to me and told me what to do, I would probably be afraid like Zacharias and Mary, but I would know it was God’s will. Matthew 1:20 begins “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife…” Joseph woke up and did what the angel told him to do. After the wise men left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream again and told him to go to Egypt. And Joseph got up during the night and took the child and Mary to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13 & 14) Then, after Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to go to Israel and he arose and went into the land of Israel. (Matthew 2:19 – 21) And once more in verse 22 “being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee”. I think it took more faith to believe God when He spoke to Joseph in dreams, than for those in the Bible who were face to face with the Angel of the Lord. Exercise your faith; believe what God is trying to tell you.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Luke 2:8
The shepherds watched…Christ told us to “…watch and pray…” (Mark 13:33) Then they went, Luke 2:16, “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The shepherds witnessed, Luke 2:17, “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” And last of all, the shepherds worshiped, “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God…” (Luke 2:20) The result, “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2:18) We can take a lesson from the shepherds, they watched, they went, they witnessed, and they worshiped. And all those around them wondered.
9 Wise Men
“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, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1 & 2
The wise men came to worship Jesus. They followed the star from the east. We can look in the Old Testament and also find some wise men. In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and demanded that the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans interpret his dream. The problem was that the king had forgotten the dream. (Daniel 2:2-5) The wise men could not tell the king his dream. Daniel 2:13 says “And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.” Daniel was one of the wise men. God gave Daniel the interpretation of the dream, and the king made Daniel “ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon”. (Daniel 2:48) Could it be that Daniel taught the wise men of Babylon about the coming of the Lord? Babylon is to the east of Bethlehem. Maybe the wise men of Babylon had been looking for the star since the time of Daniel. We read in Matthew 2:9 & 10, “…the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” After all those years of waiting, they saw the star and rejoiced, and went and worshipped Him and gave their treasures; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
“When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” Matthew 2:3
We have come to Herod in our study of the characters of the Christmas Story. Herod reminds me of many today. Herod believed the wise men. He believed that the King of the Jews had been born. He believed it so much that he had all the children in Bethlehem from two years old and under killed. (Matthew 2:16) We have people today who believe the Christmas story. They believe that Jesus was born and laid in a manger. But just believing in the Christmas story doesn’t save a person. Romans 10: 9 & 10 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Salvation is not just believing in the Christmas story. You have to have a personal relationship with Christ. This Christmas, make sure you know what Christmas is all about…make sure you know Christ.
“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Luke 2:25 & 26
Simeon looked for the Lord in great anticipation for the salvation of Israel. He said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation”. (verse 29) And he blessed them. The wise men looked for Jesus to worship Him and give Him gifts. Anna looked for Jesus and gave thanks and “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. (verse 38) The shepherds looked for the babe in a manger and glorified and praised God. Herod looked for the King of the Jews to try to destroy Him. Many looked for Christ, the Messiah, at His first coming. Are you looking for Him to return for His second coming? Our Lord’s last recorded words in our Bible are, “Surely, I come quickly”. (Revelation 22:20) He is coming back. Look for His coming, and be ready.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:13 & 14
In all the Christmas plays that I have experienced through the years, it seems that it has always been such a thrill to the little girls to be an angel in the play. They get so excited to wear the white robes and tinsel halo and sing the Christmas carols. The role of the angels in The Christmas Story was to glorify God. Today there are television shows about angels, people decorate with pictures and figurines of angels, and even wear angel jewelry. But the Christmas angels did not want any glory or recognition for themselves, they were there to glorify and praise the Christ child. After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness the “angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matthew 4:11) And when Jesus was betrayed by Judas He said, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53) The angels were present with Christ throughout His life on earth. They praised Him and served Him. We should also praise Him and serve Him.
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
A character in the Christmas Story who isn’t mentioned in our scriptures is the innkeeper. We don’t know anything about him. All we know is that he did not have room for Mary and Joseph. Every one of the house and lineage of David had come to Bethlehem to be taxed. The inn was full. Our Savior was born and laid in a manger. From the highest heavens to the lowest degree on earth, He came to us. How many today don’t have room for Him? How many have let people and things crowd their lives so much that they don’t have room for Christ? Make sure this Christmas season that you have room in your heart and life for the Savior. Don’t be like the innkeeper and turn Him away.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.” John 1:6 & 7
Gabriel told Zacharias that John was sent “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17) and that he would “be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb”. (Luke 1:15) When Mary went to visit Elisabeth we read, “when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost”. (Luke 1:41) After the birth of John, Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost and he prophesied, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins”. (Luke 1:76 & 77) John came, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3) as prophesied in Isaiah 40:3. John preached repentance and baptized our Holy, sinless Lord Jesus “to fulfil all righteousness”. (Matthew 3 and John 1) Jesus said of John, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist”. (Matthew 11:11) John, filled with the Holy Ghost, prepared people for the coming of Lord. We spend a lot of time preparing for Christmas with our shopping, wrapping, cooking, and decorating. But what have we done to prepare for Christ? And even more, what are we doing to prepare others to meet our Lord?
15 God's Son
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
We have looked at all the “who’s” in the Christmas story. Today we are looking at “whosoever”. God loved us so much that He gave His Son that whosoever believes can be saved. Are you like the innkeeper who had no room for the coming Savior? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Put him first in your life and don’t let people or things crowd Him out. If you have been praying for something for a long time like Zacharias and Elisabeth, don’t quit praying and keep on believing that God can answer your prayers. Say with Mary, “For with God nothing shall be impossible”, and be willing to let God use you for His purpose and do the impossible in your life. Look for His coming like Simeon. Sing His praises like the angels. Tell others about Him like the shepherds. Give Him your best like the wise men. Prepare others to meet Him like John the Baptist. Believe what the Lord says like Joseph. We read in Acts 16:30 & 31, “…Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
16 The Babe In The Manger
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
We have looked at all the “Who’s” in the Christmas story. But who is this babe in a manger? We read in Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the son of God.” We see the genealogy of Mary in Luke 3:23-38. The last verse says, “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” Jesus was born of a woman, but He was the Son of God. And the genealogy of Mary goes all the way back to Adam, the first man created by God. When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden it separated sinful man from a Holy God. But God in His mercy promised a Redeemer. “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14 & 15) This baby in the manger is the promised Redeemer, the Savior of mankind.
17 Son Of Abraham
“Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham…” Luke 3:34
This is a continuation in the genealogy of Mary. We read in Genesis 12:1-3 “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” How could we ever receive the blessings promised to Abraham’s seed? We can understand the answer in Galatians 3:14, “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” God did not have to include us in the promises to His chosen people, but He gave His Son to also save the Gentiles. I am so thankful that He made a way for me. I did not have to be born in a Jewish family to be born into the family of God.
18 As Was Supposed The Son Of Joseph
“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli” Luke 3:23
The genealogy in Matthew 1:16 says, “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Since I am not a Bible scholar, I had to read the explanation for this difference in the study notes in my Bible. It explained that since it says in Matthew that Jacob begat Joseph, this is the genealogy of Joseph. It also states that the genealogy in Luke belongs to Mary and that it means Joseph, which was the son-in-law of Heli. Jacob could not have two different fathers so the explanation makes since. The part of the verse that caught my attention is the phrase, “as was supposed”. The world could not explain the conception of Jesus so they supposed Him to be Joseph’s son. As Christians, we recognize the handiwork of God all around us, but those who don’t believe “suppose” those things just happen. We have often heard people say, “You sure are lucky”. I don’t believe in “luck” or that anything ever “just happens.” I believe that God is in control of everything. Don’t try to explain all of God’s miracles, and don’t just “suppose” that things happen. Believe God and allow Him to work His work in your life.
19 The Lion And The Lamb
"And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." Revelation 5:5
"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29
He is the Lion and the Lamb. In Genesis 22:8 we read, “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering…” Christ is the Lamb of God, “slain from the foundation of the world”. (Revelation 13:8) He arose and we see Him as the Lion of the tribe of Judah in the end of time. “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as it had been slain…” “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels…Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Revelation 5:5 & 6, and 11 & 12 We should say with the angels, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” He alone is worthy.
20 The Son Of David
“…which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz…”
Luke 3:31 & 32
Mary, the mother of Jesus was a descendent of David, King of Israel. We read in Matthew 1:6 that Joseph was also a descendent of David, “And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias”. Jesus was called “thou son of David”. (Matthew 9:27) In II Samuel 7:16 God promised David, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.” How did David react to God’s promise? “Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” (II Samuel 7:18) David was humble before God. But he believed God and was also gracious. “And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.” II Samuel 7:28 & 29 Jesus came to earth in an humble birth. But He is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” (I Timothy 6:15) “And he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelations 11:15)
21 In The Fullness Of Time
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Galatians 4:4 & 5
“The fullness of the time”, I like that phrase. God is never too late or too early. He always provides our needs just on time, His time. In His perfect time, He gave His Son so that we could become sons of God. “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:7) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…” (I John 3:1) God’s gift of love, in His perfect time. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) We can receive the two greatest gifts of Christmas, God’s love and God’s Son.
22 Ready For Christmas
“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6 & 7
Everyone seems to be asking, “Are you ready for Christmas?” We all seem to be really busy getting ready. We always seem to have “last minute shopping”. We try to get the groceries we need for those special Christmas goodies. We wrap our gifts in anticipation of watching our loved ones’ looks of surprise when they are opened. I think Mary and Joseph were “ready”. Luke 2:5 says that Mary was “great with child”. They knew it was time. Joseph was a carpenter and maybe he had built a crib or bed for their firstborn. Maybe Mary had made a blanket for Him. They may have had everything ready… then they had to go to Bethlehem. It must have been hard to leave the comforts of home and travel the long journey. It must have been hard to lay their tiny newborn in a manger bed of hay. Surely this was not the way they had planned for His birth. But God was still in control. And God is still in control today. You may not feel “ready for Christmas”. You may be ready and something happen in your life that completely turns you in another direction. But God is still in control. Don’t let the shopping, baking, and wrapping stress you out. Don’t let your church play or special plans cause you to miss the true meaning of Christmas. It’s good to be ready, but give God control and worship Him.
23 Christmas In Your Heart
“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
We can look back at different Christmas seasons through the years and remember some that have a special place in our heart. There may have been certain gifts that we received or even one that we were able to give that lives on in our heart. There may be loved ones that made Christmas time special to us. The memories of my Dad are dear to my heart at Christmas, and he is missed as the family gathers together. With Christmas so special to us, just think what it must have been like for Mary. We take this time every year to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Mary was there. She heard the angel say, “…that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God”. (Luke 1:35) She listened as the shepherds told of the multitude of angels praising God with “good tidings of great joy”. (Luke 2:10-13) Luke 2:18 & 19 says, “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Everyone else “wondered at those things” but imagine what Mary must have felt to hold her little baby in her arms, knowing in her heart that this was Christ the Lord… Christ her Lord. Give Christ a special place in your heart, not only at Christmas, but all through the year.
24 God Is Love
“…God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:8-10
When we make our gift lists for Christmas, we usually put those we love the most at the top of our lists. Then, if money and time allows, we add other friends and family members who may not be so close to us. But, rarely do we give gifts to people we don’t consider to be special friends or to those who don’t like us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) God gave His Son when we were still in our sins. On the way to the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus told His disciples, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:13 & 14) What command had He just given to them? “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) We need to ponder the love of God. We need to thank Him for His gift of love in giving His Son to die for us. We need to follow the commandments of our Lord and be a friend of Christ. Let the love of Christ flow through you this Christmas.
25 Christmas Joy
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
Have you ever felt like Charlie Brown at Christmas? You like getting presents and all that, but you just don’t feel happy. In Christ we can have “joy unspeakable and full of glory”. (I Peter 1:8) Someone once told me that happiness comes from happenings. Joy comes from Jesus. We can have joy in the midst of troubles. Hebrews 12:2 says “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Look unto Jesus… let Christ give you joy. You may not get all you want this Christmas, but be thankful for what you receive. You may not be able to give to others as you would like, but lift up their names in prayer. Don’t let all the commercialism ruin your Christmas. “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.” (Psalm 100:1) Spread the joy.
26. Peace On Earth
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
The angels proclaimed to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14) It would be wonderful if the world knew the peace of God. When you read the newspaper or listen to the news you can see that there is no peace in the world. Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Christians can have a peace deep down that is beyond human understanding. When it seems like there is tribulation all around you, God can give you a deep settled peace. Just remember that Jesus said, “Peace, be still” and the storms on the sea ceased and there was a great calm. He then asked, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:39 & 40) Have faith. If Christ can give peace to the winds, He can give you peace in your soul.
27 For Unto You Is Born This Day
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
What wonderful tidings told by the angel of the Lord. “For unto you”, spoken to the shepherds, but praise the Lord, He came to me. I could not go to Him, but He came to me. “Is born this day”, Christmas day, celebrated down through the ages, year after year, by rich and poor, young and old. “In the city of David”, Christ came, like David a shepherd, He is the Good Shepherd, and like David a king, He is the King of Kings. “A Savior”, to lift us up out of sin, and give us access to the Father. He came and suffered and paid our debt so that we can go free. He came, the Son of God, born in a lowly manger, to give us a Spiritual birth so we could become children of God. “Which is Christ the Lord”, Lord of all, ruler of all creation. As you worship this baby in the manger, let Him be Lord of your life. Worship Him every day, invite Him to go with you everywhere you go, live for Him always and keep the Christmas spirit all year long.
28 Gifts Of Christmas
“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.” Matthew 2:11
We gather all our family into the house. We share meals and songs and talk of happy times in our past. All the planning and shopping and wrapping is now unfolding. We open all our gifts. And no matter how large or how small, we share in the joy of giving. The empty boxes and used paper will be thrown away. The candy and baked goodies will be eaten in a short time. Our gifts will be put on display or put to use and most will eventually be taken away by time. The gifts of the wise men were not eternal. Mary and Joseph used them. But God’s gift of love and everlasting life is eternal. Salvation is not something you receive and then set on a shelf. Salvation should be a way of life. Christianity is not just something we believe, but it should define who we are and the way we live.
29 The Child Grew
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” Luke 2:40
Jesus did not stay a baby in a manger. I think there are many people today who like the Christmas story and really believe that Jesus came and was laid in a manger. But that is all they know or believe about Christ. But Jesus grew up. Verse 52 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Jesus became a man. It is not enough to just believe the Christmas story. You must know why Jesus came. You must believe that He came to give His life in your place, to pay for your sin. You must receive His salvation. Christmas is a wonderful time… but Christ grew and became a man. Let Him live in your heart all year long.
30 Don't Lose Your Christmas Joy
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
I was taking down our Christmas tree and I looked carefully for the new ornaments I used for the first time this year. There were six, and I found "Love", "Peace", "Hope", "Believe", and "Faith". I called to Mike in the other room, "I lost my Christmas "Joy", will you come help me look on the tree?" He said, "Don't lose your joy!" He got a flashlight and we looked through the branches, but I never found the "Joy" ornament. I was disappointed that we did not find the ornament, but I am thankful that I still have Christmas Joy. The angel said, "Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." We can have joy in Christ Jesus. Don't let the world rob you of your joy. Don't pack away your joy with the boxes of decorations that you will keep hidden away for eleven months of the year. Let your light shine. Let the joy of the Lord overflow your life into everything you do. In May of this year I was let go from my job of over twelve years. I knew that God is always in control of everything in my life and I tried to trust Him through that last painful month at work. The Lord has restored my joy. He has provided our every need this year, as always. I have been able to "catch-up" on odd jobs around the house, such as painting. I enjoy having time to cook and clean and feel closer to Mike and my family. I have spent time with my Mom, on several trips to visit family, shopping, and sewing Christmas costumes. I was able to baby-sit for almost a week while Matt and D moved. I feel so blessed. One day the Lord will lead me to the right job, but I just want to thank Him for giving me joy, not only at Christmas, but all through the year.
I later found my "Joy" ornament under the sofa cushions. It now hands on my refrigerator year round to remind me of my joy in Christ Jesus.
31 Praise The Lord
“To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” Psalms 30:12
Today I want to leave our Christmas devotions and praise the Lord for His goodness to me. Yesterday I had to go to the doctor for a breathing treatment and I got really discouraged to go through that scare again. Before going to bed I pulled out my journal and was determined to begin with thanksgiving as I had with each entry this year. So I started... I am thankful that I am home and not spending the night in the hospital. I am thankful that Mike was here to take me to the doctor. I am thankful for all the beautiful days Mom and I enjoyed shopping, and delivering Christmas gifts. I am thankful for the extra money God provided for those presents. My list went on and on as I thought about all God's blessings to me. Then, as each day before, I wrote my special prayer list, and God showed me how small my problems really are. God's love filled my heart and He brought peace and joy back to my troubled mind. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed as you get ready for Christmas, it may help to spend a little extra time in thanksgiving and prayer for others. It sure was a blessing to me! Merry Christmas!