Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Born to Die

And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. -Mark 15:24-27 (ESV)

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” -Mark 15:33-39 (ESV)

This is probably not the scripture you expect to read on Christmas Day. Yet, it fits. Why? Because this is the reason Jesus came to earth. This is the reason we celebrate because Jesus Christ was born to die for our sins. Of course that’s no the end of the story.

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. -Mark 16:1-8 (ESV)

Hallelujah! The Savior is Born! Praise the Lord! He has died for MY sins! Hallelujah! The King is risen! THis is the true story of Christmas. As a matter of fact, it is my favorite part of a great and wonderful story of God’s love. To remember the cross at Christmas, my family as a very special tradition. Next to the trunk of our Christmas tree hangs a long, iron nail. This nails that were used for crucifixion. We hang this nail on the tree to remind us of the true story of Christmas, Jesus was born to die.

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The Very First Christmas

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. -Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)

The Luke 2 account is very nearly my favorite of the Christmas story. It is surpassed only by John 1. I share it with you today, on Christmas Eve, partly because it is on of the traditional Christmas passages. However, there are a few things I would like to point out to you in this passage. First off, Joseph had to travel from his home in Nazareth to Bethlehem because of a Roman decree. The as a whole essentially hated the Romans and counted them their enemies. God had told the people that the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. And then God used the Jews’ enemies to cause Mary and Joseph to be in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. God can use your enemies for your good. You just have to trust Him.

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Be Strong and Courageous

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

This particular passage has been a comfort to me for many years. Recently however, I was copying the verse out and I began to see it in a new light, in relation to the Christmas story to be exact.

Mary was chosen of all the virgins in Isreal to give birth to the Messiah. She was given a rather dawnting task. After all, she would face the whispers of her peers and the skepticism of her entire village. And girls, Mary was at least as old, but likeyly younger then most of you reading. Yet when the angel came to her and told her of God’s plan she responded thus, And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant  of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.(Luke 1:38, ESV, note: do read all of Luke 1:26-38) Mary excepted God’s plan for her life without a second look, she applied Joshua 1:9 and was strong and courageous, certain that her God would be with her.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. -Mathew 1:18-25 (ESV)

If Mary was following Joshua 1:9, then so was Joseph. After all, God had asked him to raise the Messiah. That’s a pretty big calling. One that could not possibly be carried out on his own. Joseph would have to rely entirely on God.

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Jesus is Jehovah

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM..” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:14 (ESV)

When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush He gave His name as I AM. In Hebrew, this is translated as Yaweh and in Greek, it is Jehovah. Jesus is Jehovah. This is an extremely important concept to grasp. If Jesus is not Jehovah, then  His birth and death mean nothing.

In the book of John. Jesus makes several “I am” statements that He uses to identify Himself as the Son of God. While we don’t catch these because we  are not familiar with the proper name of God, the Jews knew exactly what He was implying.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. -John 6:35 (ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” -John 8:12 (ESV)

I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” -John 8:18 (ESV)

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” -John 8:58 (ESV)I am the door.

If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.-John 10:9 (ESV)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. -John 10:11 (ESV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[1] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, -John 11:25 (ESV)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:5 (ESV)

Now, every single one of these “I am” statements teachs us some important aspect of Christ. Yet, even more importantly they point back to that encouter with Moses. So this Christmas, as you celebrate with family, as you watch Christmas specials and unwrap gifts, remember that Jesus, that tiny babe depicted in the nativty sets that are on display this season, is Jehovah God. Because that is why we celebrate.

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Phillipians 2:5-11

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Phillipians 2:5-11 (ESV)

Jesus Christ came to earth, not as a regal king, but as a tiny babe. He came as a servant. But even then, Jesus was God. Yet He was not arogant about this aspect of Himself. He didn’t run around telling the Pharisees, “yeah, well, I‘m God, so, yeah.” No, He humbled Himself. Even though Humbling Himself ment that He would die the most painful death ever known to mankind. This is the first thing I would like you to take away from this passage. Be humble, as Christ was humble. As we celebrate the remainder of the Christmas season and move on into a new year, remember, it’s not about you. It’s about Him and the ways that you can show him to others around you.

The second thing I’d like you to take away to day is that God has given Jesus a name that is above every other name. This idea ties into tomorrows post rather heavily, so I would like you just to think on it and mull over it until then.

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As Jen is having a crazy week, I am filling in with some Christmas stuff to think about. Please note that this is not original.

Twas the month before Christmas*

*When all through our land,*
*Not a Christian was praying*
*Nor taking a stand.*
*See the PC Police had taken away,*
*The reason for Christmas – no one could say.*
*The children were told by their schools not to sing,*
*About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*
*It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say*
* December 25th is just a ‘ Holiday ‘.*
*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit*
*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*
*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod*
*Something was changing, something quite odd! *
*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa*
*In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.*
*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down*
* At Lowe’s the word Christmas – was no where to be found.*
*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears*
*You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your ears.*
*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty*
*Are words that were used to intimidate me.*
*Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen*
*On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !*
*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter*
*To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*
*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*
* Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*
*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded*
*The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*
*So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’ under your ‘Dream Treee’*
*Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.*
*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*
*Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS , not Happy Holiday !*
Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet during the holidays a
Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

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