Pastor Joe Miller IV
I know this might sound strange to most, but this is my favorite time of the year. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all of the other seasons: spring, summer, and fall, but winter is my time.
Starting with Thanksgiving, then hunting season, Christmas, and New Year's - snow, a fireplace, and coffee - I'm in my element! Christmas is definitely special. The Christmas music 24/7, the lights and decorations, the food, friends and family, the sense of peace and goodwill toward men, and last but not least the Christmas movies from "It's a Wonderful Life" to "The Grinch" and every one in between, I've seen them all a million times over and can quote most of the lines. Probably my favorite is "A Charlie Brown Christmas." We find Charlie Brown searching for the true meaning of Christmas when Linus stands up and quotes Luke 2:1-14 reminding all listeners what not only Christmas is about but also what life is all about!
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
The angel of the Lord brought Good News of exuberant joy to "all people." A Saviour, a Deliverer from sin and death, and a Preserver of that salvation, which is Christ the Lord.
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
If you're wondering why I included verse 17, just hold on, I'll get to it, but the point now is the man Jesus is the Christ or anointed One in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, a ransom for all, and eternal life. Not only eternal life - but eternally dwelling with God!
1 Timothy 2:3-6
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
I don't know what your greatest Christmas present has been, but I do know that you can't compare it to spending eternity with the Creator and Saviour God! Most people think that the greatest gift to mankind started in a manger 2,000 years ago, but the Word of God tells us that this has been in the making all along. God has been planning your salvation since the beginning!
Remember when I mentioned Matthew 1:17? It was through Abraham that salvation was brought to all mankind.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
This promise to Abraham is one of the most important passages in all of the Bible and points directly to the redemption of the whole world. Our salvation was being planned even back then when Abraham was only known as Abram. God was planning our eternity with Him long before the Christmas story came about.
Again in Genesis 18:18, it mentions that all the nations of the Earth are being blessed by Him (and again in Genesis 22:18 and Genesis 26:4). In all these passages, the point is that salvation for the entire Earth - all inhabitants, peoples, races, tribes, nations, Jews or Gentiles was coming through the line of Abraham and was revealed in Matthew 1:16-17. Also, Peter, speaking to the Jews, mentions the promise through Abraham for them and not only them but all the kindreds of the Earth which again covers all families, nationalities, and races (Acts 3:25).
Again in Galatians 3, we see the same promise, except this time we are seeing fruit from the promise in that the heathen or Gentiles (us) are coming to faith (Galatians 3:6-9). To further our understanding of God's family, Jews and Gentiles, read Ephesians 2:11-22.
The main point I'm trying to make is that God has been thinking about us, planning for us, and blessing us forever! Let's never for a moment forget that and intentionally give glory to God in the highest and on Earth live out the peace of God in our lives and reveal the salvation of Jesus to those around us.