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God’s Little Christmas Gift Just What We Needed!

Written by | December, 2010
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One of the time-honored Christmas traditions we love to observe is the custom of exchanging presents. We pay a visit to a local shopping mall (or perhaps surf online) that we might search out and purchase items for sharing with family members. We gift-wrap our presents and tuck them away in a secret location or position them under the Christmas tree until the day arrives for sharing and opening them.

Unfortunately, sometimes it happens that the gifts we give turn out to be unwise choices. The sweater purchased for sister Sarah ends up being a size too large. The gloves wrapped up for Uncle George turn out to be too tight for his bear-sized hands. The electronic toy picked out for little brother Joey turns out to be broken or defective. As a result, often we end up taking the item back to the store for exchange or refund.

We Christians may rejoice today.
When Christ was born to comfort and to save us.
Who thus believes  No longer grieves,
For none are lost who grasp the hope He gave us.
TLH, #107:1

It’s not likely our Christmas shopping skills will ever be honed to perfection. Nor is the day likely to come when merchandise return lines at the store aren’t needed.

Yet isn’t it comforting that the gift our heavenly Father picked out for us at Christmas –Jesus, His holy Son – was a “perfect fit,” exactly what we needed!

…In Small Packages…

We needed this Gift because we all are born with the stain of sin embedded in the fabric of our hearts. On account of those sin-stains we were destined to be cut off from our holy God forever, with no prospect of enjoying a peaceful relationship with Him now or living with Him in the joys of heaven hereafter. However, in the little Lord Jesus we have been provided with the robe of holiness necessary to cover our sin-stains.

How did Jesus accomplish this work of love? He grew from infancy to childhood to adolescence to manhood. All along the pathway of His life He showed perfect love for God and His fellow man. He fulfilled each of the Ten Commandments flawlessly as our Substitute, overcoming every sinister temptation of the devil. Then He suffered the shame and punishment on the accursed cross that we deserved for our failure to keep God’s commandments. Finally, Jesus rose from the grave on Easter morning, proving beyond all doubt that He is the world’s true Messiah and that His heavenly Father accepted His holy life and innocent death as the perfect ransom for the sins of all.

The “package” which arrived for us at that first Christmas was small – God’s Son entering our world as an infant. But just as some of the best presents we receive often come in small packages, so God’s gift to us of the little Lord Jesus is of exceedingly precious value.

Praise God this Yuletide Season for His priceless Gift to you nestled in the hay of Bethlehem’s manger. It’s just the gift each of us needed.

Yes, We Believe in Angels!

Written by | December, 2010
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A Christmas Sermonette…

As the opening narration for the children’s service will tell us, our Christmas Eve service is constructed around Dr. Martin Luther’s hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” echoing the Christmas angel delivering the good news of the Savior’s birth.

I would summarize my remarks this evening with the statement, “Yes, We Believe in Angels.” Maybe you saw it too–this last week a Fox News anchor was interviewing the leader of an atheist movement in America. This movement is among the liberal groups more and more trying to secularize and despiritualize our nation’s culture, including getting Christ out of Christmas. One atheist (!) Christmas display titled “Happy Winter Solstice” had a poster which said, “There is no God, there are no angels, there is no heaven, there is no hell…” and so on. How sad that the devil blinds people to the truths of God and His holy Word.

For our part, as Christians we believe in the supernatural. We believe in a “spirit world.” We believe in angels—that is, we believe that angels exist. As the Bible makes clear, the purpose of angels was and is chiefly to praise God and also to serve Him. Angels serve God as His messengers. Then also angels are sent to serve Christian believers. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14) “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).

“He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep
you in all your ways.
They shall bear you up
in their hands,
lest you dash your
foot against a stone”

Psalm 91:11-12

Angels as spirit-beings are generally invisible, but from the Bible we can say: not always. Think of the role of angels on that first Christmas Eve. As God’s messengers they had a message for all the world to hear. The message was to announce the undoing of that first angel who came from heaven above to Earth below. You know to what I am referring? The first angel mentioned in the Bible is a fallen angel, the devil, Satan, the enemy of God and of the foremost of God’s creation, man. Satan rebelled against God and came from heaven above to Earth beneath BECAUSE God cast him out of heaven with the rest of the angels who had rebelled.

Then, after sin entered the world by the devil’s trickery, God cast Adam and Eve out of their earthly paradise, the Garden of Eden. And do you recall how God kept man from reentering the Garden? From heaven above to Earth below God sent Cherubim angels to guard the entrance to the Garden and the way to the tree of life. In other words, not all angels came from heaven above to Earth below bearing good tidings of great joy.

Christmas then was not the first time an angel came from heaven to Earth. The good news of Christmas, though, is why the angel came. As we heard in our Midweek Advent services, God used angels to bring special announcements to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and also to bring announcements to Joseph and to Mary herself, telling them of the coming birth of the Christchild. Then on that first Christmas night God used an angel — soon joined by a multitude of them! — to announce the good news that, just as prophesied, Jesus had been born to save sinners from the disastrous damages caused by that fallen angel Satan.

Think of one other thing in this connection: The birth of Jesus into the flesh was not the first time He had come from heaven above to Earth. Jesus was and is the eternal Son of God. In Old Testament history we read many times that God sent His angel, or the Angel of the Lord, to guide and protect His people. That Angel was Jesus, but in spirit-form. The miracle of Christmas which the Christmas angel had to tell was not that Jesus came to Earth for the first time, but how and why He came – as a human being “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

To summarize, at Christmas we celebrate the holy fact that Jesus came from heaven above to Earth beneath so that we might go from Earth [beneath] to heaven [above]! We sinners are of the Earth since we are born of sinful human parents and – as God told Adam and Eve – they and all their children must return to earth, to the dust from whence they came when God first created them. And yet BECAUSE OF CHRISTMAS we can look forward to going from dust and Earth to heaven — all because of Jesus, His love and forgiveness.

YES, WE BELIEVE IN ANGELS. May the message you children have to tell us again this evening help all of us rejoice anew in the glad tidings of great joy which the Christmas angels brought to all people on Earth. Amen.

The Festival of the Father

Written by | December, 2010
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He (God) did not give His Son for the purpose of coming to straighten us out.

Of all our customs at Christmas time, gift giving is perhaps the most universal. It may also be the most exciting custom, at least in the minds of children who can’t wait to see what they will get for Christmas. When a gift is received, it’s natural to want to examine it carefully. It is exciting to get something new and to try it out.

However, we don’t want to forget the giver. The gift means so much more when it is given by someone who loves us. While a new shirt or piece of jewelry is nice to receive and a new toy can be fun, the real gift is the love of the person who chose that particular present and paid the price to give it to us.

Isn’t that really what the festival of Christmas is all about? We have received the most incredible gift of all – the eternal, holy Son of God, wrapped in the flesh of a little baby. We rejoice in that gift. He is beautiful and wonderful. We want to examine Him carefully and use Him and find our joy in Him.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”
1 John 3:1

At the same time we don’t want to forget the Giver. We can often tell a lot about the heart of the giver by looking at the gift. When we really love and care for someone, we as the givers don’t want to get any old piece of junk just to have something to give. Instead, don’t we spend time searching for something that will be meaningful and will last?

Also, the more the person means to us, the more we will be willing to sacrifice to get something really special, because love knows no bounds. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the love of the giver. Read More…

What Should Christian Pastors Preach About On Christmas?

Written by | December, 2010
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“Christmas is giving!”

How often haven’t we heard that statement? And properly understood, it is correct.

However, the majority of people who hear that statement would think of the giving of gifts, the giving of love, the giving of help and kindness. None of that is wrong except that it misses the real point of Christmas, the real reason for our worship, the real reason for this holiday!

“I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12 So what should Christian pastors preach about on Christmas? No doubt we’d be surprised by the answers if we asked the question of people on the street. We might even be surprised by the answers some church members might give. In fact, we might even be surprised by the answers some pastors might give.

We would probably hear answers that would range from “pastors should preach about love and sharing” to “pastors should preach about working at bringing about peace on earth among nations and people.” We might hear answers such as “pastors should preach on the grace of giving or how we should feed the hungry and house the homeless.”

But this article was not written to find out what I think pastors should preach about on Christmas nor what you or any other person thinks, but what God thinks.

And that is exactly what Christian pastors should preach about on Christmas — about what God says: His Word (and not only on Christmas but everyday)!

During the Christmas season Christian pastors should preach THAT GOD’S GRACE IN CHRIST SAVES. Read More…

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