17 December 2013

DON’T LET CHRISTMAS PASS YOU BYE


 Selected passages

The question that I’ve been pondering these past few weeks is this! Who will miss Christmas this year? This is the season of busy, busy, and busy! Do you realize that Christmas purchases account for 1/6 of all retail sales in the U.S [not including Canada]. Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone. Each year there are approximately 20,000 plus “rent-a-Santas” across the United States and Canada. Turkeys gobbled by Canadians at Christmas; equal to 43 per cent of all whole turkeys sold over the year. Consumerism is at an all-time high with Christmas gift ideas and sales for you to spend your money. According to TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 6, 2013) “Holiday spending is projected to continue its climb for a third straight year, according to the 2013 BMO Holiday Spending Outlook. According to the report released today, Canadians expect to spend an average of $1,810 this holiday season - up from $1,610 (12 per cent) in 2012 and $1,397 (30 per cent) in 2011. The biggest uptick in spending is attributed to travel, which has increased by 22 per cent compared to a year ago, and nearly doubled since 2011.” NOW, there is nothing wrong with spending money and buying gifts for family and friends! What is wrong, is that we're so busy doing all this we miss out on the blessing  that has already been given in Christ Jesus. As one writer said “Since Halloween we all have been bombarded with Christmas sale fliers. Most of us, it would seem impossible to think that someone could miss Christmas. But, for the Christian, there is more to Christmas than all of the decorations, the parties, the music and the shopping. If your Christmas only involves those things, then it probably is possible to miss Christmas.” People tend to be so busy; many miss the train to the true meaning of Christmas!

For example:

Two women who were having lunch in an elegant hotel were approached by a mutual friend who asked the occasion for the meal. One lady replied, "We are celebrating the birth of my baby boy." "But where is he?" inquired the friend. "Oh," said the mother, "you didn't think I'd bring him, did you?" What a picture of the way the world treats Jesus at Christmas. Being too busy may cause us to miss the importance of the season. We celebrate with friends family and co-workers….and a great majority this season will miss the train or as the bible calls it “missing the mark” Sadly a majority of people we know and love will miss out about the true meaning of Christmas again because of being so busy wrapped up in themselves. This is nothing knew….we have seen this since the beginning of time when man sinned and we continue to see this pattern throughout history. Let’s look back some 2000 years and read about some people who missed Christmas!

INNKEEPER: (LUKE 2:1-7)

“there was no room for them in the inn” (v7) This person didn’t even bother to help them find reasonable sleeping quarters in Bethlehem, especially with Mary being pregnant and all. Now, this man wasn’t unsympathetic….he was just busy and had no room for them! It was a busy time of year when there has been a Census called! The town would have been filled to the maximum. Like so many millions of people this Christmas season……busy getting things prepared, like meals, making sure everything is neat and tidy for their company. We forget the people around us, the homeless person who’s been excommunicated by his or her family. We forget the less fortunate ones by marking it to their own “bad luck”. Maybe the Innkeeper is not different then us at times! We forget why we celebrate Christmas at all! Reasons being! We have been caught in the trap of Consumerism and we get so busy we forget to stop and ponder this truth! His grace in our lives and the gospel truth that saved us from His judgment and damnation.

HEROD (MATT 2:1-8)

“Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship Him.” (v7-v8) This is a man who pretended to want to worship Jesus Christ. He was a troubled man by this child who would be born! Why? This child had the power to usurp his throne and strip him of his power. In (v3) we read “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled [agitated], and all Jerusalem with him.” agitated” means : stirred up, shaken up.” It conveys the idea of panic. History tells us his paranoia was legendary “He was afraid one of his two sons might take his throne, so he murdered both of them. His entire life was one of plotting and execution. Five days before his death he executed all his descendants who might have laid claim to the throne. In one of the final acts of his evil life, he had all the distinguished citizens of Jerusalem put in prison and commanded that they be slaughtered the moment he died. “These people will not weep when I die,” he said, “and I want them weeping, even if they weep over someone else.” So even at his death there was a great slaughter.” His supremacy was in jeopardy. He had no use for any other king of the Jews. Sadly many today feel the same way as Herod did some 2000 years ago. People today will not allow anything to interfere with their plan, lifestyle, career, position, power, or ambitions in life. Many today see Jesus as a treat rather than a blessed Saviour to mankind. Some will do whatever it takes to destroy the true meaning of Christmas and will fight to have Him removed from our lives. We have seen this around the globe…..even in our own country of Canada. Some like Herod will have wrong motives and they will celebrate His birth, they will even embrace Jesus as a means when they get themselves into trouble, but they will never submit to Him as Lord of their lives.

RELIGIOUS LEADERS (MATT 2:4-5)

“And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:” (v4-v5). According to their own answer to Herod they missed the signs of the coming Messiah. They knew exactly where He was to be born and yet they couldn't be bothered to go themselves to see their Lord and Saviour. They couldn't be bothered to walk 2 miles to Bethlehem to find the truth of the prophets of old. As Isaiah said “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.” Isa 9:6. Sadly, there self-righteous religious attitude made them deceived to their own need of a Saviour. This is happening all over the globe, especially in North America. Churches will be filled with religious people at Christmas time…….they will do their yearly visit to hear the Christmas message. They will substitute the gospel truth with religious rituals over religious transformations found in Christ alone. Remember what Jesus said “….'I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Matt 9:13. See, finding Christmas will not be easy, no easier than finding it the first time. If most of the religious experts missed the very first Christmas, it wouldn't be surprising to find a lot of modern-day religious people missing the big event, too. The religious mistake is to ignore your need for a Saviour because to feel you good enough to get to Heaven. The bible calls this missing the mark because you are sinner who needs to be saved! These men chose not to go! These men didn't anticipate the birth as Simeon or Anna did! As John MacArthur said “they didn't care about the remedy, because they don’t believe they have a disease, such people miss Christmas.”

THE PEOPLE OF JERUSALEM (LUKE 2:8-20)

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!" 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." (v11-v15) Remember Bethlehem is within walking distance of Jerusalem. Remember Jesus’ birth is the fulfillment of the nation’s hopes according to the Old Testament prophets. Out of the whole of Jerusalem society, God picked a band of shepherds to hear the news of Jesus’ birth. Sadly the entire city slept and missed it with the exceptions of some lowly shepherds watching their flocks at night. Why? The city was busy with themselves and their religious rituals; see Jesus didn’t fit their system of things! See they were looking………
  • A hero
  • A superstar
  • A king
  • A conquer
  • A leader who would deliver His people from captivity
  • Not some baby born to a virgin who was married to lowly carpenter.

We live in a culture that is not so different than the people of Jerusalem. Jesus doesn’t fit into our lifestyle either………..with reasons like:
  • I love money more than Jesus!
  • I love my stuff more than Jesus!
  • I love power more than Jesus!
  • I love prestige more than Jesus!
  • I love popularity more than Jesus!
  • I love fame more than Jesus!

He’s just going to cramp my lifestyle and we can’t have that, can we? We call this materialism and idolatry! Everything this culture desires over Jesus......that’s how they see Christmas

Remember we need to slow down and embrace the truth of why we celebrate the birth of Christ this time of year! We need to remember why Christ came and how we are to exemplify our LORD. I think Charles Swindoll said best “Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond financial value: Mend a quarrel, dismiss suspicion, tell someone, "I love you." Give something away--anonymously. Forgive someone who has treated you wrong. Turn away wrath with a soft answer. Visit someone in a nursing home. Apologize if you were wrong. Be especially kind to someone with whom you work. Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.” Don’t be like so many people today……like this woman I came across in my study this week! A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable--and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves--she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season: overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, getting perfect gifts for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card. Finally the elevator doors opened, and there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed, she couldn't take it anymore and said, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot…..From the back of the car, everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond: "Don't worry, we already crucified Him." For the rest of the trip down, the elevator was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.” Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase and word. If we all did, just think how different this whole world would be.
  • Maybe the Innkeeper would have stopped and not miss the Savior.
  • Maybe Herod would have truly submitted to the King of Kings.
  • Maybe the Religious would truly have seen the signs pointing them to the first coming of Christ.
  • Maybe the Nation would have anticipated the truth of the prophets of old.
  • Maybe people today would celebrate the birth of Christ as precious event rather than a selfish time to get what you want out of people.
  • Maybe people would be more excited about Christ appearing than a fat guy coming down your chimney.

Don’t miss this Christmas season as the innkeeper, Herod, the Religious and the nation did some 2000 years ago. Jesus is way too important to overlook……….not just at Christmas, but with every breath you take because that is a gift from God as well. Don’t miss the train………… and the true meaning of Christmas this year. If you truly want to experience Christ this Christmas, then Stop, Look and Listen. In Jeremiah 29:13 we read “God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Don’t miss Christmas this year and seek Him with your whole heart.

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