Christmas

Joy To The World! The Lord Has Come

joy-to-the-world1For every couple who has waited for that first child to arrive, you know the joy when the moment finally comes. Couples who have struggled with infertility and longed for that child may feel that joy just a little deeper. So imagine for a moment how the Jewish nation should have felt after waiting 4000 years for the promised Messiah. All the signs were there. The Old Testament is full of the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah….and every single prophecy was fulfilled with total and complete accuracy.

Old Testament Prophecy New Testament Fulfillment
Time of His Coming

 

Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

Jesus identified at the right time

 

John 1:41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ

 

John 4:25-26 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he

Christ to be born of a virgin

 

Isaiah 7:14 The Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Mary

 

Luke 1:26-27 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary

Christ to be born in Bethlehem

 

Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting

Bethlehem

 

Matthew 2:4-6: King Herod asked where Christ had been born and they answered, “Bethlehem.”

 

Luke 2:4 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:)

Of the Tribe of Judah & House of David

Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be

Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting

God told David the Messiah would be from His line in 2 Samuel 7:12. When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom

Lineage from Abraham to Christ

 

The complete lineage from Abraham to Christ can be found in Matthew 1:1-16.

 

Angel tells Mary her son will have the throne of His father David.

Luke 1:31-32 You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of His father David.

 

Certainly, the Bible has much more to say about the birth of Christ. These are just a few of the verses where one can read about the prophecies and fulfillment of Christ’s birth. The point is God gave the people of Israel every possible sign so they would be able to recognize who He was…and they missed it. Why? Because they were expecting a king that would deliver them from the rule of the Roman Empire. The could not grasp the idea that God would chose a young, ordinary girl who was only engaged to be married to give birth to the Savior of the world. They were not looking for a baby lying in a lowly cattle trough, but royalty. But God loves to take the ordinary and do something extraordinary because it reveals His power and glory.

Jesus. The baby Mary held in her arms was God in human flesh. The baby Mary held in her arms was the King of Glory who willing left the splendor of Heaven to be born a baby and live a human life. While Mary certainly felt joy as she held her son in her arms, this baby would bring joy to the entire world because through his birth, the entire human race was granted hope of being able to be restored to the God who created us. Indeed, Jesus birth is cause for us to sing:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing.
(Sir Isaac Watts, published 1719)

 

 

 

 

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Christmas

The Expressions and Symbolisms of Advent

Isaiah 7 14Advent is a time of expression and symbolisms. The word is a Latin word that means “coming.” About 4000 years lapsed between the creation of Adam and Jesus’ birth….that’s about 4000 years the Jews waited for the coming of the Messiah. Since Jesus’ return to Heaven, Christians have been waiting for his Second Coming. When Christians around the world observe Advent, they are both remembering the coming Messiah at His birth, as well as the expectation of His coming again. While it is a season to both reflect and prepare, it is a joyful time because it also proclaims and reminds us of God’s love which he expresses to us through the baby in the manger that would grow up and willing endure a sacrificial death on the cross, followed by his victorious resurrection. It is also a season of hope as we wait and anticipate the King of kings returning to earth again.

Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, beginning on the Sunday that falls between November 27th and December 3rd every year. Many families make or purchase an advent wreath. The circle of the wreath is a symbol of God’s unending love for us. The evergreen leaves on the wreath are a symbol of our eternal live. Four candles placed in the wreath represent the four Sundays that lead up to Christmas

Advent-candles-wreathThe wreath, because it is a circle, symbolizes God’s never-ending love. The wreath, because it is green, symbolizes life. An Advent wreath contains three purple candles representing the four Sundays leading to Christmas. Purple is used to symbolize that Jesus came from the royal line of David and that He will come again as King of kings. Each candle represents various aspects of the waiting experience. The first candle is the candle of hope. The second is the candle of love. The third is the candle of joy. The fourth candle is pink and is lit on the fourth Sunday. It represents peace. Many people place a white candle in the center of the wreath to symbolize Jesus and is known as the Christ candle and points to Jesus being the Light of the World. The candles are lit in progression throughout the Advent season, adding one each Sunday, with the Christ Candle being lit on Christmas Day as we rejoice in His promise of long ago was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus and as we look forward to the fulfillment of the promise of Christ’s Second coming.

In 1745, Charles Wesley’s Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus was published. The words to this Advent Hymn perfectly portray the season of Advent and expresses the sigh of longing we feel for the day of His coming again.

  1. Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art; Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.

  2. Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

If you are interested in leading your family in a family worship through the Advent season, you will find a detailed Worship Service for Families here along with more detailed information about Advent.

Christmas

The Simple Beauty of Christmas

christmas tree fireplace

I love Christmas! It is probably my most favorite of holidays…and not just because I was born just a few days after Christmas. I love the twinkling lights, the beautiful Christmas trees, the Christmas carols, family traditions, the kid’s pictures with Santa, the joy on people’s faces, and giving gifts. I love wrapping gifts with my daughter while Christmas music is playing in the background….and then I love taunting my family members as bring the wrapped gifts out and place them under the tree. My kids are old enough now (both in college) that they try to act like they are not the least bit interested, but they still want to know what’s in those boxes and if mom got the one thing they want more than anything else. If you were to ask them what their best Christmas was, they would probably both tell you it was the year that they received a fully packed suitcase (all with new clothes) and on top of the clothes laid an annual pass to Walt Disney World. We left the next day for a three day stay at one of the resort hotels and enjoyed everything Disney. We certainly do make memories that last a lifetime around the Christmas holidays.

 What does bother me about Christmas is that retailers have made it into financial gains while shoppers stress over finding the perfect gift and how to pay for it. It has become one of the most stressful holidays of the year for many people. Why? Because we’ve lost the focus of the reason we celebrate the holiday.

 What would Christmas be like if we returned to the simple beauty of Christmas? Instead of hustle and bustle to get to the next Christmas party, our neighborhoods could be filled with the sound of carolers as they stroll through the streets. Instead of giant blowup minion (or other popular figures) Santas on our front lawns, there would be more nativities. Have you ever wondered about how the traditions of Christmas were designed to remind us of the miracle of our Savior’s birth? As we celebrate Christmas this year, may we long for that simple beauty, remembering how the King of kings was born, held in the arms of his young, virgin mother and laid in a lowly cattle feeding trough. Even more so, let us yearn for His renewed presence among us. Let it draw us to worship, just as the shepherds came to worship. Let us bring Him the gifts of our love, praise and adoration, just as the wise men brought gifts of god, frankincense, and myrrh. Let us bring Him our gratitude for the blessings He has given us this past year. As we sing the Christmas songs, let us remember the angels that sang at His birth.

 I hope that as we begin this Christmas season, that this year will be different. That we will focus the holiday around the one who’s birthday we celebrate. I hope that we will stop rushing and take time focus our attention on Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with His gifts of joy, love, and grace that He gives through Jesus’ gift of salvation to us. To help you draw your holiday focus on the celebration of Christ’s birth, our blog posts leading up to Christmas will focus on the traditions of the Christmas season and the message of Christ within the traditional decorations used throughout the centuries. My hope is that by remembering what Christmas is truly about, that you will not only make memories with your family and children that will last a lifetime…but on into eternity.

o come let us adore him