Merry Christmas and good evening! Welcome to Old Town Christian Fellowship and to our Christmas service. Just a reminder that we won’t be having services tomorrow, but do encourage you to do so with your families. I want to start this evening at the very beginning. The first book of the Bible and the first verse of the Bible. There are favorite Christmas passages, that we have all come to expect this time of year, but I want to show you one of my very favorites, that you probably have never connected to Christmas before. But first the beginning...
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Further on in the same chapter we read… Gen 1:26-27
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
I read that to teach you or maybe remind you, that each human being is an image bearer of His Creator, the Almighty God. You and I were designed to look like God, it’s in our DNA. SO when we live lives that are in rebellion to our creator we are fighting against the grain of our creation and that path, will never, ever, led to true satisfaction, joy, or peace.
Now we all know the story, lot’s of us were taught it as children, how the serpent came into the Garden of Eden and deceived Eve, and she and Adam then ate the fruit of the tree that God had told them not to, and thereby brought sin into the world, and with sin came death. The story tells us that God then asked them what had happened, and they confess to God that they had eaten of the fruit that He had told them not to and they told Him about the serpent and about what He had done.
So the Lord God speaks to the serpent, He curses the serpent and He says these words to him, my favorite Christmas passage…Gen 3:15
15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
Enmity = or hostility and division
her Seed, that’s Jesus! Not the one that would be born of the seed of man, but the one that would be born, thousands of years later, and now thousands of years ago to a virgin named Mary…He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel. Isn’t it beautiful!?! Perhaps you’ve never considered this verse part of the Christmas story.
But it is the first Messianic Prophecy in the Bible. The very first place that God tells us to not loose hope. Your sin has separated you from Me, but I will be sending My Son, Jesus Christ to come and die, and it will be by His blood that you can be made right with me, in fact, it’s the only way. But I want you to know that from the very beginning, that I have a plan for your redemption.
Sending Jesus was never a second thought, the salvation of mankind, the only way to redemption with the One who’s image we bare is based on this one prophecy, and it was not a second thought. You were not a second thought! And that He chose to do this through sacrifice, for us. By sending His only begotten Son... as a vulnerable baby to become a concurring King.
Think how incredible, how inconceivable, that sin would be so horrific, so painful, so destructive to everything, and everyone, that we love. So, destructive to us. And God’s plan, from the very beginning would be to send His Son, to come into this world as a baby. It was announced in the very beginning, but was continued to be prophesied about throughout the Scriptures. In Isaiah 7:14
14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Which means literally, God with Us.
Two chapters over in this amazing prophecy it says, Isaiah 9:6
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Hundreds of years later, the angel Gabriel appears to Luke 1:27-30
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
Months later, when Mary was nearly full term, she and Joseph were required to travel, by order of Caesar Augustus, to the City of Bethlehem. It was by order of Caesar, but this too was by the plan of God from long ago Mic 5:2
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
F-ra-thah (Means Fruitful)
The Bible tells us that it was while they were in Bethlehem, for the census Luke 2:6-7
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The word of this child, the Savior of Israel and of all who would believe quickly spread. Luke 2:8-11
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
It is marvelous, it is miraculous, that God’s response to disobedience, that God’s plan from the very beginning for rebellion against Him, was sacrifice. That is Son would suffer, to take away ours. Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. We look forward to the giving and receiving, the time spent with ones that we love. But the greatest gift was given by the One who gave us life, and then redemption and eternal life through His son.
But we must receive the gift of salvation. We can’t take a peak at it. Play with it for a little while, and then exchange it for something that gives us temporary pleasure. See what makes the gift so awesome, so unlike any counterfeit that the world may offer us, is that there is salvation through the gift. Redemption, forgiveness, and restoration with God, through Jesus. Eph 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
His birth is what we celebrate on Christmas. But it is His life, His sinless life, and His death on the cross, followed by His resurrection, that make life eternal possible for us. I say possible, because it’s not a participation trophy. I know those are gaining in popularity in this upside down world we live in, but salvation is not automatic, we must believe, and we must receive. The Bible is clear about this, there is salvation in no other place…Acts 4:12
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
When Paul and Silas were asked by the Philippian jailer what he must do to be saved, to receive this gift of God, they said Acts 16:31
31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
They said believe…and The Apostle Paul said the same in his letter to the Romans…Romans 10:9
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
In the next verse he reverses the order to show what actually happens...
10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
We must believe to receive. God sent His son, and that is what we celebrate on this day. But that baby, born in a manger in the City of Bethlehem, grew to be a man, fully God and fully man. He was without sin, which is what made it possible to pay the price for your sin and mine. The beauty of Christmas... is the realization that this gift is available to every one of us. That God’s plan from the very beginning was to reconcile us to Him, through the miracle of Christmas. The gift of Jesus Christ.
I’m going to invite you all to pray with me, and then we are going to close out our service with some Christmas songs and the children will be coming out to join us. Parents make sure to watch your kids, because on the second song we will be lighting our candles to end our service in candlelight. So would you please stand with me as we pray?
Father in Heaven, thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus. Thank you that you are not like us, but you made us to be like you. That in response to rebellion, in response to rejection, you made the only way for things to make right. Jesus was plan A from the very beginning. Lord we celebrate this joy of the world now as we sing. Thank you for Christmas, thank you Father for Jesus, and the gift of salvation through Him, it is in His name we pray, and they all said....Amen.