Christmas past, present, and future is really what Christmas is all
about, and what we should be celebrating today.
Christmas past is when Jesus was born into this world over 2,000 years ago, and which we incorporate into our Christmas present celebration, today.
But all too often, we fail to celebrate Christmas future, when Jesus comes again, and once again establishes His peace on earth as it was in the beginning, when He created this earth and established Eden, where there was no pain or suffering or death, and where all living beings (human and other animals) ate only the plant foods that God created for us to eat.
In Psalm 96:7-13, which was written many years before Christmas past, the psalmist foresaw the coming of what we should see in our Christmas past, present, and future.
7. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name;
Bring an offering, and come into His courts.
The offering we are to bring into the presence of the Lord is our true repentance. God does not want us to kill an innocent animal as a sacrifice; He wants our obedience.
9. Worship the LORD in holy attire;
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
We are to clothe ourselves in righteousness and not in the ways of this
corrupt and evil world.
Also, we who know the truth tremble before the Lord, because we know how far we have come and how far we have to go to be truly holy as God is holy, but the hard of heart people of the world donít want to come before the Lord; they like doing their worldly things too much.
10. Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved;
He will judge the peoples with equity."
The world rarely listens to what the peacemaking children of God have to
say; instead we often have more effect if we just set a heavenly example
If the people are convicted in their hearts and souls about not living in the heavenly will of God, thenÖ
11. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
12. Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
13. Before the LORD, for He is coming;
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
And the peoples in His faithfulness.
This is Christmas future, when the Lord returns.
Are we going to be ready or, more correctly, are we ready now for His return?
We should be.
If we arenít living in the heavenly will of God, and desiring the corrupt things of this world with all their violence, pain, suffering, and death, we are not ready.
Isaiah 52:7-10 is mostly about Christmas future, but it also seems to be telling us that even today, we should be living as witnesses of Godís heavenly will.
7. How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
Jesus did this in Christmas past, and His message continues to ring true in our Christmas present, but the fulfillment of these things are still in our Christmas future, for as we can all see, we do not have true peace in the world.
8. Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices,
They shout joyfully together;
For they will see with their own eyes
When the LORD restores Zion.
9. Break forth, shout joyfully together,
You waste places of Jerusalem;
For the LORD has comforted His people,
He has redeemed Jerusalem.
Isaiah must be prophesying about our Christmas future, because this has not happened
10. The LORD has bared His holy arm
In the sight of all the nations,
That all the ends of the earth may see
The salvation of our God.
We believe that the whole world has seen this, but they have not accepted
it; rather they have chosen to live in the corrupt ways of this world.
We are not to be like them; we are to be the peacemaking children of God who have welcomed Jesus Christ into our hearts and souls.
In Luke 2:1-20, we are told the Christmas past story that is to carry through all our Christmases.
1. Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar
Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
2. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.
This is the way the world is; humans rule instead of God, and humans and other animals suffer because of it.
4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to
Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of
the house and family of David,
5. in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
6. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
7. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Jesus was born in a stable with the animals, for He came to earth because
His father loved the whole of His creation, humans, other animals, and the
environment in which we all live.
No animals were chased out of their home (the stable) or harmed, and the animals even shared their feeding trough (manger) with the baby Jesus.
Are we sharing our lives with Jesus in the heavenly will of God, as He taught us to do?
Letís go back to our Christmas storyÖ
8. And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.
We need to focus on the fact that these shepherds are working in this
corrupt world where animals are exploited and not protected as God desired
us to do in Eden; animals were to be our companions and not our property.
But God must have seen the intent of the shepherdsí hearts and soulsÖ
9. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the
Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
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.
12. "And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger."
13. And suddenly there appeared 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 men with whom He is pleased."
People like to translate the last part of this verse as saying that God is
pleased with all people, but we donít believe that is what the angels were
We believe that this verse is saying that only the people with whom God is pleased will have peace on earth; for as we know, there has never been real peace on earth even to this very day.
There was no peace on earth before Christmas past, when Jesus was born, and there has been no peace up to this Christmas present, and we can only hope that at some Christmas future there will be peace on earth.
But before this can happen, we all have to return to God with a truly repentant heart and a desire to live in His heavenly will, and diligently work at helping to free creation from its present corruption.
15. And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
They went, and yet ever since we have seen only a small percentage of our human society truly seek the presence of Jesus in their life, even with all the reminders of past Christmases and Christmas present.
16. And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the
baby as He lay in the manger.
17. And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
18. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
How many of us have this same wonderment in our hearts and souls, and what about all those who donít want to hear this story?
19. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
We all need to be like Mary, but even more so, because we have heard the teachings of Jesus.
20. And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that
they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Itís time to really honor God, and Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who
should be dwelling in our hearts and souls by being the peacemaking children
of God that we are called to be.
Is this who we are?
We should be.
Letís now take a look at Titus 2:11-14, for its message is really for Christmas past, present, and future.
11. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
Even though it may look like this hasnít happened yet, it did happen some 2000 years ago in our Christmas past.
12. instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
We hope and pray that in our Christmas present, Jesusí message rings loud and clear, and we do truly separate ourselves from the worldly desires around us.
13. looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great
God and Savior, Christ Jesus;
14. who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
Are we really doing this?
We sure hope so, for the whole of creation (all living beings and the environment) is crying out to be set free from the corruption it has been subjected to.
Letís conclude our discussion about Christmas past, present, and future by looking at Hebrews 1:5-12Ö
5. For to which of the angels did He ever say,
"Thou art My Son,
Today I have begotten Thee"?
"I will be a Father to Him
And He shall be a Son to Me"?
This is a Christmas past truth that we need to remember in our Christmas
present, and for all future Christmases to come.
Jesus Christ is not only the son of God, but He is also God; the two are one.
And, if we believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, then we will follow His teachings, and do all the things He told us to do, including bringing the heavenly will of God to earth as it is in heaven, which includes helping free creation from its present corruption, and ending all the human caused pain, suffering, and death.
What are we eating this Christmas day?
Is it in the heavenly will of God and free from suffering and death?
If it is, it contains no animal products, and is full of the abundant plant foods that God created and commanded us to eat in Eden.
6. And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says,
"And let all the angels of God worship Him."
This is for our Christmas future, but we should be living as if it is our Christmas present.
7. And of the angels He says,
"Who makes His angels winds,
And His ministers a flame of fire."
8. But of the Son He says,
"Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,
And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.
9. "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee
With the oil of gladness above Thy companions."
"Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the works of Thy hands;
11. They will perish, but Thou remainest;
And they all will become old as a garment,
12. And as a mantle Thou wilt roll them up;
As a garment they will also be changed.
But Thou art the same,
And Thy years will not come to an end."
This is our Christmas present and future.
Is Jesus Christ the focus of our Christmas?
Are we promoting Jesus Christ as the importance of Christmas, or is it someone else, or is it the decorations and the presents, or perhaps a roasted animal cadaver on our holiday dinner table?
Do we tell our little children that Santa Claus is one of Jesusí helpers, because Jesus wants the little children to enjoy His birthday party?
Jesus Christ is our Christmas gift, as we talked about last week, so if He is not the central focus of this day, then we are only celebrating a worldly festival with all its pain, suffering, and death.
Jesus Christ is our Christmas past, present, and future, and it is only through Him and His teachings, that we can once again have true peace on earth.