Advent week : Christmas Eve

Finally we get to discuss Jesus Christ. His birth is significant only because of His death and resurrection. Jesus came so that we may have forgiveness from our sins and everlasting life.

There must be atonement for our sin. We see this first in Genesis. After Adam and Eve sinned, they had to cover themselves in the sight of God as He is holy and perfect and cannot be present alongside darkness (a stand in for covering their sin).

In the Old Testament, (Leviticus 1) we see that the original atonement for sin was very specific and very disturbing (as it required a difficult sacrifice with a lot of rules).

Hebrews 9:11-12 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

So we see that Jesus came to abolish the previous requirements and be our “scapegoat” onto which we could transfer sins. Much like Adam and Eve had to cover their sinful nature, Jesus’s blood covers over our sins to make us blameless in the sight of God.

That’s what I’m celebrating this Christmas. The birth of a Son who came only to bear the weight of my sin which I could not wipe off my own record.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

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Advent week 4: LOVE

In this week’s message of advent, I talked specifically about Mary and the angels and the final preparations for Christ’s birth.

I believe it is important to note that the Bible never says anything about worshiping or praying to (or through) Mary or the angels. Neither of these were meant to replace God in any way and the Bible specifically says “All angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit eternal life” in Hebrews. Also, 1 Corinthians 6:3 says that we are to judge angels. Finally, Philippians 4:6 says to make your requests know to God (directly to Him being implied).

Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (which means God with us).

This prophecy is obviously very specific. When it is paired with Micah 5:2, which says one from the clan of Judah will come out of Bethlehem, it sure does make a serious case that this birth was by divine design!

The fact that Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem at the exact time that Mary went into labor was quite a staggering coincidence, as it was not planned (see Luke 2:1-7). She had to stay in the guest room (*most likely not a stable) because they did not expect to have the baby at that time.

In my opinion, this was all arranged by God so that He could show His everlasting love for us (as in John 3:16). It is a free, unearned gift. Think about a gift for a moment. When we give gifts to each other, we don’t do it because the receiver did something to earn it (or it would be a wage). We do it not expecting anything in return and we don’t give in order to take away at a later time.

In this season, accept God’s free (unearned) gift of love and pass it along to someone else!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Advent week 3: Joy

Week three of advent is also known as “Stir Up Sunday.”Accordingly, I will talk quickly about John the Baptist and the Shepherds who were both charged with stirring up the people to let them know about Jesus.

Luke 2:8-14 (NIV) 8 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Have you ever wondered why God chose to announce this to simple shepherds? I  believe the answer lies in verse 8. The shepherds were KEEPING WATCH (maybe they were Ever Mindful).

I believe that when we learn to keep watch for God’s little miracles, we will begin to notice Him working in our lives more often.

John the Baptist was born just a little bit before Jesus and it was spoken to his father Zechariah that John would make His people ready. Interestingly, John grows up and decides to live in the wilderness and preaches to the people that One greater than he is coming. Why? Obviously to fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3 “A voice of one calling, in the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord.”

God sure likes to use unconventional ways to bring about His promises. This brings me joy because I know that He does have us in His hands. Trust Him today that He knows what He’s doing!

Advent week 2: Peace

It is true that there are many variations of the advent messages, specifically regarding the order in which they are discussed. This is a  brief overview of my past Sunday message:

In my study of Christ’s lineage, last week we discussed His forefather Abraham. This week we will discuss David. I apologize for the long read but trust me that it is worth it!!

Jesus is widely know as the “Son of David” as well as the “Lion from the Tribe of Judah” (which is the tribe that David is from). Both of these are used only as identifiers of His paternal lineage as they didn’t have last names. Obviously He is wholly the Son of God.

If you’re not familiar with David’s biography, it is a very interesting read. The following is a very shortened version:

In 1 Samuel 16, we read that Samuel went to Jesse to bless one of his eight sons as the next chosen king. However, Jesse only brought out seven. This is likely because David would have been a pre-teen at the time and somebody did have to tend to the sheep. Samuel realized someone was left out and ordered Jesse to bring David to him. So, we see here that DAVID WAS LEFT ASIDE! (He was then anointed to be the next king.)

In chapter 17, DAVID WAS TOO WEAK to wear the king’s armor to battle Goliath (not that he needed it).

In chapter 19, DAVID HAD TO FLEE FOR HIS LIFE as Saul was quite upset that David would eventually take his kingdom.

Second Samuel chapters 2-5 are where we see that David is finally anointed as the king at the age of 30. Here, we find that DAVID WAITED AT LEAST 15 YEARS FOR HIS PROMISE.

Do you think everything was peachy from there? (A resounding NO!)

Around the age of 50 is where David decides to commit adultery with Bathsheba and have her husband Uriah killed. The king, chosen and anointed by God Himself, DAVID COMMITTED ADULTERY AND MURDER!

Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story, David had a good friend (named Nathan) that helped steer him back onto the course and DAVID REPENTED AND THE PROMISE WAS RE-INSTATED. God still used this man’s lineage to bring forth His only begotten Son! There are many prophecies specifically foretelling Christ’s birth through the lineage of David.

In their book “Science Speaks,” Peter Stoner and Robert Newman spelled out that the odds of one person fulfilling even eight Biblical prophecies in one lifetime are one in 10 to the 17th power. They say that’s like filling the state of Texas two feet deep with silver dollars, marking one, stirring it all up, and randomly picking that one coin! (There are many more than eight prophecies fulfilled in Christ’s birth alone and at least 360 in His life.)

If God can do all that, then I have peace that the rest of His word is true and my sins are forgiven because of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. THAT’S WHAT I’M CELEBRATING THIS CHRISTMAS!