Luke 2:1 0-11
Preparation (John 14:27):
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
We have just come through the Christmas season. We probably spent a great
deal of time, money and effort trying to make everything work just right.
And I hope everything worked out just as you wanted it to. For some,
however, it may not have been a season filled with that joy and peace that
we talk about. And in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, we even may
have taken some time to acknowledge Jesus Christ. I hope so.
We also have welcomed in the New Year. How did we do it? Was Jesus part of our celebration? We also may have made some resolutions. Is the reason for them a good one? Will we honor them?
If Jesus Christ is part of everything we do, then the joy and peace will be there; and everything we set out to do, that honors Him, will be accomplished.
Now the accomplishment we are talking about has nothing to do with all of the hustle and bustle preparations we went through for Christmas, but only about those things that honor the Lord.
Do you remember the story about Mary and Martha? Do you remember that Martha was working very hard trying to prepare everything for the Lord, but Mary was sitting at His feet, listening to all that He had to say? Martha was concerned that she was doing all the work, while Mary was doing none of it. Note the Lord's answer in Luke 10:41-42 –
41. But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried
and bothered about so many things;
42. but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
And now I want to ask you a few more questions. Is Christmas still alive
with you, or did you pack it up and put it away until next year? Would you
like Christmas to be every day, if you could have it without all of the
preparations you went through for this past one?
So, for the next five weeks, I would like us to reach back to December 25th, and bring along the true meaning of Christmas, so that it may stay alive within us, and hopefully way beyond January for all eternity. Let's begin by looking at the subject of today's sermon.
Where was Jesus born?
The prophet Hosea correctly prophesied where He would come from. Note Hosea 11:1 –
1. When Israel was a youth I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
Biblically, Egypt speaks of the land of sin, and while Jesus did spend some
time there as a youth, He was not born there. Even though He took upon
Himself the sins of the world, He was not born in sin. We must look further
to see where Jesus was born.
In Matthew 2:23, we see that Jesus will be called a Nazarene. He was, for he lived there; but more importantly, that place was considered the most unlikely place for Messiah to come from, for its meaning is synonymous with one who is contemptible and despised, which Jesus was considered by many in His day and is also so considered by many today. But Jesus was not born in Nazareth, either. We must look still further to see where Jesus was born.
In Micah 5:2, the prophet says that He would be born in Bethlehem. Let's look at that verse.
2. "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Yes, Jesus was born in Bethlehem almost 2,000 years ago, but He didn't stay
there. A little over a week ago, we celebrated His birth again. Where was He
born then? Where is He now?
I pray that your answer is that He was born in your heart, either this Christmas or sometime before. And I also pray that is where He is now. And unlike His leaving Bethlehem, He has promised us that He won't leave us. But in order that we should not leave Him out, we would do well to leave the commercialism of Christmas behind. Note Hebrews 13:5-6.
5. Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with
what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I
ever forsake you,"
6. so that we confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What shall man do to me?"
When verses like these become real in our lives, so will the everlasting joy
and peace of Christmas.
If you're not absolutely sure that Jesus is in your heart and that He has made you over into a new creation, then I believe that you hurried too fast through Christmas. You didn't open up all of your presents, or at least the most important one: the one containing God's love.
So, just in case there are some of you here that don't have that assurance of Jesus' ever presence, let's go back to Christmas and open that very special present. And I'm sure that even if you have that assurance, you won't mind going back with us, for it's always enjoyable to see someone open up a present, especially this one.
Here we are back at Christmas, and there is that present that we were talking about, beautifully wrapped and waiting for you. And look how beautiful everything is with all of those lights and colors. And look at all of that food!
There's enough food there to feed an army, and I just know how good it's all going to taste. Look on the table, every one of those special dishes you like so much is there. Oh! Look over there at all of those desserts. Look at those pies, and that fruit cake, and those cookies; and over there, all that candy and those nuts. Wow! Can't you almost taste it all?
See, our relationship with God is much like our entering this room full of all the good things to eat. We can believe that all of that food will taste good, but unless we actually eat it, we won't know for sure. But unlike our relationship with God, the food may or may not really taste as good as it looks. God always is better.
We may enter a church and not know that God really exists. Or we might enter believing that He does exist. We may even believe that Jesus really is who He says He is. But if we haven't really tasted His Word, how do we really know for sure?
I see you over there. Yes, you: the one who is trying to open that special present that God has for you. I also see that you're having trouble opening it. Do you know why?
This is the kind of present that can only be opened by faith. Fingers and teeth and nails and scissors don't help. You don't have to struggle so hard to open it. In fact, if you let it, it will almost open by itself.
Note that I said that this kind of present can only be opened by faith. Inside the wrappings of this present is a very special gift: the gift of eternal life and the forgiveness of our sins. Unless the Lord knows that we are willing to accept His free gift, the wrappings won't come off.
Just like with the food on the tables, we can believe that it will taste good, and if we were starving, that it could save our lives; but if we don't act upon our belief, there is no benefit. When we act upon our belief, it becomes faith. The act of actually eating the food confirms our belief, just as non-eating of it denies our faith. The same holds true for God's Word. Note Romans 10:16-17.
16. However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, "Lord,
who has believed our report?"
17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Did you not hear the angels announcing the glad tidings of the birth of Jesus Christ as recorded in Luke 2:10-11?
10. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you
good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;
11. for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Are not you and I, each one, of all the people? Then this message is for us
also. It is meant for each of us personally. Did you hear it? Oh, please
hear it! Reach out for it; it's very precious.
Do you believe that Jesus can save you from everlasting death?
Do you believe that Jesus died for you personally, so that your sins can be forgiven?
Do you believe that He rose from the dead to prove that He holds the key to everlasting life for you?
If you're not sure that He is in your heart right now, do you believe that He will come in if you ask Him?
And, most importantly, do you have the faith to actually ask Him?
How do you ask Him?
By simply repenting of your sins, and asking Him to forgive you. There isn't one of us here who hasn't sinned and, for that matter, there isn't anyone in the entire world that hasn't sinned.
And how else do you ask?
By asking Him to come into your life and truly be Lord of your life. But you must mean it.
That beautifully gift-wrapped package is really the Lord Jesus Christ. He will freely open for you, if you will open to receive Him.
Do you want to have Christmas every day? You can have Jesus Christ born anew in your heart. You can, if you believe. You will, if you ask.
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