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Christmas 2009

“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. [7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. [8] And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. [10] And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. [11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:6-11

Many will speak out about “what is wrong with Christmas.” They will criticize the commercialism, the sinful revelry, the ignoring of God and His Son, etc. .

May I share with you some things that thrill me about Christmas? I will start with that precious word in v. 11 above, “Saviour.” I was lost and He found me; I was drowning and He saved me. It was Him, and Him alone, who had the power, the ability and the desire to save me from a sinner’s hell. I still use the old English spelling of the word because I am reminded of the “i o u” in “Sav I 0 U r.” As someone has said, “I had a debt I could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe.”

The Christmas story reminds me of God’s power. All the hosts of hell tried to prevent the birth of the Saviour, yet He came at the time appointed (Genesis 4:4) to the place appointed (Matthew 2:5) for His appointed purpose (Matthew 1:21.) Men may rant today; they may rage against the manger scene and saying Merry Christmas, but just as that Babe came to Bethlehem, He will return as Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Revelation 19:16.) People may scoff at those who believe one Book, one Lord, one Saviour and one way to Heaven, but their scoffing will be turned into weeping. Those who banned prayer and Bible reading will praying to the rocks and the mountains:

“…Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Revelation 6:16

The Christmas story reminds me of God’s wisdom. Notice that the angel’s did not go to the Temple in Jerusalem, nor the university, nor the churches, nor the Chamber of Commerce or the Court House. He sent them to shepherds in the field. Think about that…God Almighty entrusted the message of His birth to lowly shepherds; not to the high priest, or the scholars, or the powerful, or the wealthy or the influential. Do you know what the qualifications were for being a good shepherd? They had to be brave, faithful and strong willed. The braved the elements, fought off predatory animals and stayed alert at all times. Their job resume did not have one thing about a doctor’s degree, speaking ability or having a pleasant personality. The shepherd’s life was a frugal one. Today, preachers (who erroneously call themselves shepherds) make a good living with all the perks, and have none of the qualifications it took to be a good shepherd. Most of the big preachers and pastors do not even list their home phone numbers. They do not want to be bothered with some sheep’s problem. Their lifestyle is not one of sacrifice and dedication, but of luxury. The TV charlatans who guarantee one’s healing fail to follow Christ’s marching orders in Luke 9:2-3:

“And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. [3] And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.”

Don’t claim the first half of the verse without obeying the last half.

If you keep reading in Luke 2, you will find that the shepherds paid attention to the message of Christ’s arrival and acted upon it (Luke 2:15-16.) May I draw your attention to the words “they came with haste.” No hesitation on their part.

The results of their seeing Jesus was that they went to tell others (Luke 2:17.) Today, one of the best evidences of someone being saved is that they want to see their friends and loved ones saved. We still have a story to tell…that’s the real Christmas.

John the Baptist gave us a reason why God may have given the message to shepherd’s first.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29

How would the Lamb of God take away the sin of the world?

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Who knows how many of these shepherds flock were taken daily, weekly or monthly to be sacrificed at Jerusalem. Since the lamb to be sacrificed must be perfect (Exodus 12:5,) I am sure the shepherd felt a certain amount of prestige for raising such a lamb and also, a certain amount of heartache that the lamb must die within the first year.

What we have been discussing occurred over 2,000 years ago, yet it is as thrilling today as it ever was. The story is still the same. We can still say:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

That night in Bethlehem, Christ brought salvation to earth as the “Lamb of God.” One day He will bring peace on earth as “Lord of Lords and King of Kings. (Revelation 17:14, 19:16)

Twice a year, America in particular and the world in general, must hear the story of Jesus; His birth and resurrection at Christmas and Easter. With all peoples mocking Him, His Bible, prayer to Him and His commandments, He still makes the world face the truth twice a year.

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are WITHOUT EXCUSE.” Romans 1:20 (caps mine)

Have a Merry Christmas

Keep Looking Up!

Leland Maples

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