Christmas Story 2

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“Christmas Story 2”

Let us start of tonight with a word of prayer.
Most of this fall, we’ve been talking about the basic doctrines of our Christian faith. Then last week we moved into the Christmas season talking about all the wonderful implications that the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had on the world. We discussed how, and when, we started celebrating Christ’s birth. (500 AD) How His birthday, and the birthday of the patron saint St Nicholas, were celebrated very close together and was somehow combined into one holiday, and was celebrated on December 25th back in the late 500’s. Then we moved on into how important it is to remember, and celebrate the birth of our Savior, in our world today some 2000 years later. And then we talked about “what if Christmas didn’t happen”, meaning, if Christ wasn’t reborn in our hearts each year, at this time, it would be a season of stress and despair. We talked about how all the pageantry of Christmas would absolutely happen, but would Christmas Himself show up?
This week, we’re going to see that Christmas happened in the same kind of world back 2000 years ago, as we currently live in today. Lets read together tonight two passages of scripture. The first from the book of Matthew 2:13-23, and then from the book of Luke 2:1-11.
In the reading and telling of the Christmas story from our Bible, we see angels appear, and a strange light shinning from the heavens. We hear heavenly hosts singing ha-la-lo-ya. Yet, the truth is, we’ve never seen an angel, been dazzled by bright lights from the skies, nor heard angelic voices singing. At least I haven’t. Sometimes we get the feeling that Christmas happened in another world. We wish it could’ve happened in our world, but we tell ourselves, Christmas would never be at home with us.
Such thoughts and conclusions are wrong. Christmas did happen in a world just like ours. Christ was born into a world of evil and good, chaos and order, and darkness and light, just like our world today.
Our world today is a strange blending of evil and goodness, chaos and order, darkness and light. But as we learned last week, Christ still comes into this world of conflict and confusion through the hearts of Christians. He initially came that first Christmas to make this world different. He came “to make us different”.
He Came to a World of Evil
Christ was born into the evil of this world, which never had a more repulsive and arrogant ruler than King Herod, known as Herod the Great.
Herod was a mad genius, a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was one of the greatest administrators, the Middle East has ever known. His magnificent buildings, are still splendid in their ruins today. But along with his brilliance, there were dark shadows, of evil and jealousy. The evil of his heart had made his mind mad.
Herod was married ten times. He had his beautiful and loyal wife,whom he once loved, Mariam murdered. He arranged the murder of three of his sons, whom he thought threatened his throne. He was easily threatened. And when he was threatened, he was blinded by hatred and rage. He was the most brutal, and ruthless ruler of his day.
When the wise men informed Herod, that another King had been born in his country, he felt threatened. The story says, “he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:3). And he said deceptively to the wise men: “Go and search for this child King, and when you find him, let me know that I may come and worship him too.”
The wise men, being warned by God, tricked Herod and returned to their country another way. When Herod saw that he had been outwitted by the wise men “he was furious, and he sent soldiers to have all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the region who were two years old or under” killed.(v. 16). You can just feel some of the terrible agony, and pain caused from this mad act, when you read Matthew 2:18 “18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”” Imagine, infants snatched from there mothers arms, and massacred right before their very eyes. Could you imagine anything more painful, and agonizing than that?
On that first Christmas, the darkest kind of evil, and the most painful kind of suffering, occured in the same time frame as the Savior of the world was born.
In this Christmas message tonight, we’ve run headlong, into one of the most difficult, theological questions, that’s ever been asked by mankind: If God is so good, so loving, and all-powerful, how do you explain the evil and suffering in our world? If you are looking for an easy answer to this question, just stop, we don’t have enough time in this message to explore that topic. I can explain it, but it would take a whole sermon series to do that. There are no easy answers to that question. But we have something better, than an easy answer tonight. We have Christ, who brings light, healing, and forgiveness into the world.
Jesus knew of the tragedy caused by men like Herod, but He was also aware, of the tragedy that sweeps down upon people just as a part of life. In Luke 13:4-5
Luke 13:4–5 NKJV
4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
He told about the Tower of Siloam, during a storm, toppling over and destroying eighteen people, who had sought shelter and refuge at its base. It all seemed so senseless.
So the faith of a lot of people, has been crushed, because of the King Herods of this world. And the Rachel’s of our world, weeping for their children, refusing to be comforted. Repeatedly, a depleted faith, lies in the aftermath of the storms of life. Yes, the evil and suffering of life, is one of the greatest problems of our existence. And we meet that problem, in one of its most brutal forms, at that first Christmas.
A World of Good
But this is only half the story. Christ was also born into a world, where there’s all kinds of beauty, goodness, kindness, and love.
You see the brutal faces of men like King Herod, but you also see the honest faces of the shepherds, as they watched their flocks by night, the worshiping faces of the wise men, as they brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, to the new born King. The loyal face of Joseph, and the loving face of Mary. It was a world where honest work is done, where truth is told and sought for, where there is love and devotion, where dignity and respect are shown to people, and where there are values dearer than life itself. And it was a world where people, “saw God”, and worshiped Him.
While there is disorder and confusion in our world today, there is still a lot of love and good in it also. There is the God ordained structure of the family, and of course, the God ordained structure of the church, the body of Christ. On that first Christmas, the family was present in Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. Joseph stood by his wife and child with strength and devotion, and Mary kept watch over her and God’s Son with loving eyes.
The church had not yet been established on that first Christmas, but the very beginning of it, was lying in a manger, being put in place, with the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the church, has been the heartbeat of the world ever since. The church is the backbone of everything good that happens in the world today, and the Head of the church was the results of that first Christmas. Without the church today, the world would be in anarchy. The church is what holds all order together in the world, not the governments of the world, and Jesus Christ is what holds the church together.
So Jesus, while not coming that first Christmas, with easy answers about the great problems of human existence, came with something better. He came with deliverance for the world, which is the answer to those great problems, which was made possible in three ways.
First, Jesus came as the Savior who forgives sin. The Christmas angel had announced in Luke 2:10-11:
Luke 2:10–11 NKJV
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.
Only as we are forgiven, by the Lord Jesus, can we be set free from the shackles of sin and death.
Jesus has came to save us, the worst of us, even the King Herods of this world. He came to save all people. That is what makes the gospel of Christ such exceedingly good news. He has come to save people like the shepherds and wise men, whom also need the free gifts of grace and forgiveness. He has come to redeem good men from their moral and spiritual pride, making them better and giving humility and grace to their lives. He has come to redeem our orders of life—the family and the church. He has come to bring justification to the entire world.
Secondly, Jesus came to establish a new and unbreakable relationship with God. Before He announced that first Christmas, God had been silent, without interacting with man for 400 years. But when He finally spoke He gave us His Son and the world was changed forever. There is nothing in the world that can ever break that relationship with God which has been established in love. The apostle Paul tells us in the closing part of Romans 8:37-39 : nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. And it reads like this:
Romans 8:37–39 NKJV
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It doesn’t matter how deep the shadows are which we walk through, or how brutal the blows that stagger us, we can make it through anything if we know that God has laid His powerful hands of love on us that will never turn us loose.
And thirdly, Jesus Christ has released a power greater than all the evil forces of our world. The indwelling Holy Spirit of truth. The apostle Paul shares with us the will of God in 1 Tim 2:3-4:
1 Timothy 2:3–4 NKJV
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
This is the will of God, and the indwelling Holy Spirit gives us the supernatural, limitless power to do God’s will. The Spirit gives us the power to understand and comprehend our Bible. The Spirit gives us the power to recognize and overcome sin in our lives. The Spirit also gives us the power to recognize and conquer all the attacks of the devil by putting on “the full armor of God”. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the boots of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And He also gives us the ability to pray in the Spirit. The Spirit also helps us to recognize divine appointments from God to share the gospel with the lost world. The Spirit will also help us with being able to discern the difference between true and wrong doctrine when we here it. And lastly the Spirit assures us of our salvation having the peace of God that originated on that first Christmas by the birth of our Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ.
This is Christmas! Let us rejoice and take hope in it. Let us celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into our world which changed our history forever. He continues coming to us every Christmas, through the hearts of Christian’s everywhere with His grace, love and hope, and with His power to save us into eternal life. “This is Christmas”!!!
Let’s pray together:
Lord, thank you for Christmas, and we thank you for your word that reveals to us your awesome character and love. We pray that the Word would become flesh and dwell among us in our hearts this Christmas. Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus this Christmas season, for our good, and for your glory. In Jesus’ holy, holy, holy, name, Amen.
As we are singing our last hymn tonight, and we’re reflecting on how Jesus can dwell among us in our hearts this Christmas season, and if you’ve never honored God by asking the Lord Jesus to come into your heart and be your personal Lord and savior, this would be the perfect time to do just that. God has made that so easy for us, all you have to do is JUST DO IT. The Bible says it’s fool proof. The Bible says that anyone, and I do mean anyone, who calls on the name of the Lord WILL BE SAVED. It doesn’t matter what your past may look like. Remember the apostle Paul, before the Lord saved him on that road to Damascus, how he persecuted the church, and had the Lord’s people put in prison. And King David who commited adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah murdered on the battlefield. Those two men of God commited terrible sins, and the Lord forgave them. The Lord doesn’t care about your past, He just cares about your future. And He wants all people to spend that future with Him in eternity, in that place called heaven. Don’t wait another second. If you have any doubt at all about your eternal security, or what’s going to happen when you die, I beg you to get it settled. Get it taken care of right now, right here, right where you are sitting. Just quietly, with your heads bowed, and your heart’s toward God, just pray a little prayer like this..............say..
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