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Seeking Things Above


If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)

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2008-12-24

The Christmas Story

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This is the Christmas story we started telling as a family together last year.  I wrote it because I wanted to share the gospel with my brother and his girlfriend.  However, I shared it again this year with just my wife and kids after we lit the Christ advent candle and sang some carols as a family.  I look forward to this being a tradition each year.

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What is the true meaning of Christmas?

Most people if asked can tell you that the Christmas tradition started as a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2:4-14 (ESV)
4 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,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7 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.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
10 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

What does this really mean? Why celebrate the birth of a Jesus, 2000 years ago.

“I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people”

Was this birth really good news and a great joy for everyone?

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!”

Where is this peace on earth and who are these people God favors?

The birth of Jesus is only part of the story. The story begins at the beginning of time and the story ends everyday, with each of us.

In the beginning:

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV)
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
3 but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.' "
4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

One day, while still in paradise, while there truly was peace on earth and goodwill towards all men, Adam and Eve made a choice.

Their choice was to believe a snake, the snake, Satan. The lie was that they could be like God. Adam and Eve, innocent from creation, chose sin over God. They chose death over life.

God told Adam and Eve they could have anything they wanted, just not the fruit of this one tree. Just one rule, one decision and they chose to disobey.

If God knows everything, why did He give them this one rule He knew they could not follow?

Because God is love and God desires love from us. However, love is a choice. We cannot love if we do not have a choice.

So what does Adam and Eve’s mistake have to do with you and me?

We too have choices, everyday. We too make the wrong choices.

Romans 3:9-18 (ESV)
9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
13 "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."
14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known."
18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Romans 3:23 (ESV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We all know we’re not perfect. However, most of believe that we’re not all bad either.

One mistake and we’re out?

The truth is God is a God of judgment. He is holy and perfect and he cannot accept anything that is not holy and not perfect. However, God is also a God of mercy and love.

From the beginning, God made a promise to Adam and Eve that he had a plan to undo their bad decision.

Genesis 3:15 (ESV)
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

God’s curse of the snake is His promise to us that one will come that will crush the head of Satan, the deceiver.

Adam and Eve messed up. However, we all mess up. None of us are perfect. We all fall short of God. We all have the same consequence given to Adam and Eve.

Death. Not a physical death, although we all physically die, but a death of our spirit. Death by separation from God.

However, the God of mercy and love has a plan.

Romans 6:23 (ESV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:16 (ESV)
16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The baby’s birth we celebrate on Christmas is this Jesus. The Son of God sent to undo our bad choices and allow us to once again be good with God.

However, this is only half the story.

Who is this Jesus? What is it about him that makes us good with God?

John 14:6-11 (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."
9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Who was this Jesus? He was and He is the Son of God but even more that that, He is God.

The wages of sin is death. God is a God of mercy and love, however, the price of sin must still be paid.

The rest of the Christmas story is how God paid the price for us.

Jesus, the Son of God, Jesus, God in the flesh paid the price for the sin of Adam, for your sins, for my sins.

Matthew 27:27-35 (ESV)
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.
28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,
29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.
31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.
33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull),
34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.
35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

Jesus was not just killed. He was tortured and mocked, whipped and nailed to a cross.

Why?

Because of me. Because of you.

Why is it we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of God who we then tortured and nailed to a cross?

Mark 16:1-7 (ESV)
1 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.
2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.
3 And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?"
4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large.
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.
6 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.
7 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."

Why do we celebrate Christmas?

We celebrate Christmas because in spite of our own selfishness, God had a plan.

We failed but Jesus paid the price.

How do we know it is paid? Because He conquered death and rose again.

This is the Christmas story.

Love is a choice.

Adam and Eve chose to believe the devil over God.

We choose everyday to do things our way rather than God’s way.

God still chose to die for us.

Now the choice is ours again.

We can choose to believe this Christmas story and choose life. We can choose to believe the good news and have God’s joy and peace. We can choose to be favored by God.

And we can choose not to believe.

I choose life. I choose Jesus as Lord. I choose to believe the good news and accept God’s joy, peace and favor.

What do you choose?

Merry Christmas!

2 comments:

Peter P said...

Merry Christmas!

Tony said...

Thanks Peter. Merry Christmas to you and your family as well.

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