Early Christmas Thoughts

It’s officially Christmas season.  Heidi and I love Christmas about as much as anyone. It is a time of family and hope. It is the time when God stepped into His creation and the infinite put on the skin of the finite.  Christmas is the time when Jesus “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Phil 2:7).  It is the time God came down to rescue His people. It’s easy to see why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.

When is the earliest mention of Christmas?  If you know the Scriptures, you will probably point to the gospels of Matthew or Luke.  If you have been in the church for a while you may think of the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15. Those are all great answers.  But allow me the opportunity to direct you to another portion of Scripture.  In Exodus 3:7-8, we can see the essence of the Christmas message.

“7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey-the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”

Do you see the Christmas story?  There is a people in great need.  They are in bondage, slaves to Egypt, and in need of rescue.  God sees their misery and hears their cries.  He comes down to rescue them and bring them to a good, spacious, and bountiful land.  That is the gospel, that is the Christmas story.  We are a people desperately in need of rescue.  God, Himself, comes down to rescue us. For those who by faith repent and turn to him, there is a wonderful land, the new heaven, and earth waiting for them.  Exodus 3:7-8 is gospel.  Exodus 3:7-8 is Christmas. 

As you walk through this Christmas season, keep in mind why Jesus came.  We needed rescue. We could not rescue ourselves, so we needed a rescuer, a redeemer.  Christmas reminds us that our rescue is in Jesus alone.  God hears, sees, and knows our pain.  Christmas is a reminder that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Christmas is a time we remember that “yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).  This Christmas, slow down.  Enjoy the journey of advent.  Make silence, Scripture, and solitude a part of your trek through advent this December.  What did Jesus give up rescuing us?  If that is true, what is He worth?

Revelation 5:9, 12-13

“9And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 12 “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” 13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

May we worship the slaughtered standing lamb, both now and forevermore. 

Happy Thanksgiving

The older I get, the more the holidays mean to me.  All of our kids and grandchildren are planning on being with Heidi and me on Christmas.  We absolutely can’t wait.  I love Christmas.  I’ve been wearing Christmas socks to preach in for weeks.  I’ve been watching Christmas movies, not for weeks or days, but many months. I love Christmas.  However, I can get ahead of myself.  I also love Thanksgiving; there is something special being with family and having our hearts reminded of the bounty of blessings we have in Christ.  

Let me encourage you with something relatively simple.  Before going all-in for Christmas, take time to live in thanksgiving to God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances.”  I know this can be especially hard for many.  If you are finding it hard to be thankful this season, let me offer you two verses.  Read each one; meditate upon them; I think the Spirit of God will move you to thanksgiving.  First, read Mark 15;25.  Don’t go too quickly to the next verse, but, in time, read 2 Corinthians 5:21. 

If that doesn’t help, maybe this article I read this morning reminding me of the Christian roots of Thanksgiving would help.  

Here is an excellent quote from the article. “Thanksgiving was (and still is) founded on the Christian notion we have something to be thankful for and someone to be thankful to.” I hope you enjoy the article. Behind every gift, there is a giver. Remember to give thanks for the gift and the giver.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Heidi and I love each of you and are richly blessed by having you in our lives.