The Infinite has Become an Infant!

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(Charles Spurgeon, “Christ’s Incarnation, the Foundation of Christianity”)

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8

How surprised the angels must have been when they were first informed that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Life, intended to shroud Himself in clay, and become a human babe, and live and die upon the earth! We don’t know how the information was first communicated to the angels; but when the rumor began to circulate among the shining hosts–we may imagine what strange astonishment there was in their lofty minds!

What! was it true that He whose crown was all bejeweled with stars, would lay that crown aside? What! was it certain that He, about whose shoulders was cast the purple robe of universal sovereignty–would become a man, dressed in a peasant’s garment? Could it be true that He who was eternal and immortal, would one day be nailed to a cruel cross!

How their wonderment must have increased as the details of the Savior’s earthly life and death were made known to them. Well might they desire to “look into” these things, which were so surprising and mysterious to them.

And when He descended from on high they looked upon Him in rapturous amazement–wondering how it could be that He “who was rich–for our sakes became poor.”

Do you see Him as, on that day of Heaven’s eclipse, He did, as it were, ungird Himself of His majesty? Can you conceive the increasing wonder of the heavenly hosts when the great deed was actually done–when they saw His priceless tiara taken off, when they watched Him unbind His belt of stars, and cast away His sandals of gold?

Can you conceive what must have been the astonishment of the angels when He said to them, “I do not disdain the womb of the virgin; I am going down to earth to become a man!”

O angels, be lost in astonishment, as you see that the Infinite has become an infant!

He, upon whose shoulders the universe hangs–hangs at His mother’s bosom!

He, who created all things by the word of His power, and who bears up the pillars of all creation–has now become so weak that He must be carried in the arms of a woman!

Wonder, you angels who knew Him in His riches–while you behold Him in His poverty!

Is He not just the Savior that we need? God and yet man in one adorable person!
He is able to sympathize because He is man–and He is able to save because He is God!

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Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

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The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?

First, let’s look at the reasons why some Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have origins in paganism. Searching for reliable information on this topic is difficult because the origins of many of our traditions are so obscure that sources often contradict one another. Bells, candles, holly, and yuletide/yule decorations are mentioned in the history of pagan worship, but the use of such in one’s home certainly does not indicate a return to paganism. While there are definitely pagan roots to some traditions, there are many more traditions associated with the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Savior of the world in Bethlehem. Bells are played to ring out the joyous news, candles are lit to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4-9), a star is placed on the top of a Christmas tree to remember the Star of Bethlehem, and gifts are exchanged to remind us of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, the greatest gift of God to mankind.

Another argument against Christmas, especially having a Christmas tree, is that the Bible forbids bringing trees into our homes and decorating them. The passage often cited is Jeremiah 10:1-16, but this passage refers to cutting down trees, chiseling the wood to make an idol, and then decorating the idol with silver and gold for the purpose of bowing down before it to worship it (see also Isaiah 44:9-18). The passage in Jeremiah cannot be taken out of its context and used to make a legitimate argument against Christmas trees.

Christians who choose to ignore Christmas point to the fact that the Bible doesn’t give us the date of Christ’s birth, which is certainly true. December 25 may not be even close to the time Jesus was born, and arguments on both sides are legion, some relating to climate in Israel, the practices of shepherds in winter, and the dates of Roman census-taking. None of these points are without a certain amount of conjecture, which brings us back to the fact that the Bible doesn’t tell us when Jesus was born. Some see this as proof positive that God didn’t want us to celebrate the birth, while others see the Bible’s silence on the issue as tacit approval.

Some Christians say that since the world celebrates Christmas—although it is becoming more and more politically correct to refer to it as “the holidays”—Christians should avoid it. But that is the same argument made by false religions that deny Christ altogether, as well as cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny His deity. Those Christians who do celebrate Christmas often see the occasion as an opportunity to proclaim Christ as “the reason for the season” among the nations and to those trapped in false religions.

As we have seen, there is no legitimate scriptural reason not to celebrate Christmas. At the same time, there is no biblical mandate to celebrate it, either. In the end, of course, whether or not to celebrate Christmas is a personal decision. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5) and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas.

GotQuestions

Celebrating Jesus the Right Way

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Do we realize what price was paid for our sins, rebellion, anarchy and foolish pride? It cost God His only Son. You who have children, would you sacrifice your only son or daughter for Clifford Olson? How about Charles Manson? Exactly! We can’t comprehend the idea of sacrificing our precious children for anyone let alone an enemy of society. But this is exactly what God did for us, He gave His Son up for us and our depravity, sin and pride.

The question we always want to ask is “Why? I didn’t ask Him to do it? I don’t need His sacrifice to give me happiness, anyway. I can find my own way…” Really? When someone says this to me, or I hear someone saying this on the radio where they have been lifted up as an “intellectual”, I have to laugh to myself. FOOLS! Have you not the faintest idea of how mortal you truly are?

You are a speck who relies on the arbitrary will of God just to wake up in the morning!

God is in control of everything, seen and unseen. That which the enemy perpetrates on man has to get the permission of God to follow through.

“The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”

Even the roll of the dice at a craps table in Las Vegas is in God’s control and He decides the outcome. That’s the God I serve, how about you? Do you think that the ugliness of the world and all that happens to man catches God off guard? The book has been written, the end is known and everything in the middle just takes time to play out. Your sin and rebellion was known to God before the foundations of the universe were laid. He knew you would fling your fist in His face and curse His name and go your own way. He allowed it! He might have even ordained it. How’s that for hitting between the eyes? You’re not this high and mighty man-god who has all this power to change your reality and to speak things into existence, you are a piece on a chess board, controlled and allowed to move according to a pre-ordained plan. You and I and the rest of the universe are on proverbial leashes and we might as well accept it and carry on with doing what makes our journey glorifying to God.

This message is for Christians and non-Christians alike. We are all in the same boat here. We have all bucked against the rider and we have all strained against God’s hand, much like a child does when he wants to run off down an aisle that his daddy doesn’t want him going down. He strains and tries to separates his daddy’s fingers, but to no avail. We can come willingly or forcefully, our choice, and that’s our only choice. We can be rebellious or obedient but either way we are fulfilling God’s plans come hell or high water.

Please understand, God had all of this planned out right from the get go. When He rebuked the “snake” for his rebellion and lies He told the enemy that His head would be crushed by the seed of the woman. This referred to Jesus coming out of this promised seed. And truly Jesus crushed Satan’s head when he bowed his face down to the earth in submission and obedience to a triumphant Christ. If only we could have seen that moment when Jesus took away the keys of death, hell and the grave from the enemy. What a sight that would have been!

Jesus went to the earth to suffer and die for you and me because if He didn’t, we would eventually all be consumed by the wrath of an incensed God Who had had enough of man’s sin. Just like man of today who constantly curses God to His face and strives to make life hard for Him, he will too be judged and thrown into an ever-stoked and ever- ready hell. Don’t think for a moment that your sin hasn’t escaped God’s notice. He’s watching, taking names and waiting…ever waiting.

Jesus bridged a gap between us and God. An impassable gap that we could never traverse on our own merits. Man tries but ultimately fails. The gap is Christ-shaped, not man-shaped and only Christ could fill the gap between us and God. He had to die in order to save man from himself and God. He gave us the antidote to our sin-sickness. He gave us a way out of our depravity and selfishness. He made the way to our Father’s loving arms.

Who killed Jesus? Who put Him on the cross? Who drove the nails into His hands and feet? Who pounded the crown of thorns into His precious head? Was it the Jews? Was it Satan? Was it the political powers at large? Yes and no. Those were the players in the story. Characters who were choreographed and positioned perfectly to play their roles in this drama of life, death and life again.

Isaiah 53

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

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God was pleased to crucify His own Son to satisfy His own need and demands for justice and righteousness. God needed a sacrifice to atone for our sins and His Son stood up and took the fall for us. He dove on the grenade and took the brunt of His Father’s anger and wrath and drank the cup until there was none left.

Zech. 13

And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

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Yes, Christmas is about friends, family, presents, food…etc. But regardless of the pagan roots, and regardless of how many Christians refuse to celebrate this day, this family remembers Christ Jesus, Who came to this earth, humbled and emptied out. Who lived a sinless, holy life and died on that horrid cross.

Does it not make sense to look for ways to give Him the glory He so richly deserves? If we can find that which is redeemable and focus on that, are we not honoring God? My children know that Santa doesn’t exist. They know that we don’t worship the Christmas tree, but it stands as a symbol of the tree that God hung Jesus on, the glorious and perfect ornament that made the cross beautiful.

One more thing…I have had people, Christians, stand up and say, “I refuse to celebrate Christmas because of its pagan roots”.

Okay then, if you are to be dogmatic about Christmas, then be dogmatic through to its logical end. The days of the week are named after false gods. The months of the year are as well. Many vehicles are named after gods and religious symbols, and I’m sure that if we did the research, we would find that almost everything in our day and age has its foundations in paganism. You see…? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Focus on the glorifying and ignore that which has no merit to it. Turn your head away from the commercialism and focus on giving, serving and looking for opportunities to tell others about Jesus Christ, the best gift of all.

 

Jesus, The Angel of the Lord and Christmas

Michelangelo_Merisi_da_Caravaggio_-_The_Conversion_of_St._Paul_-_WGA04135Phil. 2

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Who is this Jesus who came to earth in the form of a baby? Who was this man who was swaddled in cloths and placed in a feeding trough? Who was this boy, with His runny noses, scraped knees and need for love and affection? Who was the boy who was disciplined by His mom and dad when He ventured off to the Temple to “be about His Father’s business”?

We read about Jesus in the Old Testament and places in the New where He appeared to men and dropped them like a rock to the ground. We read that God sent the Angel of the Lord to destroy on many occasions.

Abraham was confronted by the Angel of the Lord when he was about the sacrifice his own son.

We read where Moses encountered Him in the burning bush. Moses was beside himself when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him. Moses dealt with the glory of God on the mountain when he was given the Ten Commandments. He came away radiating the glory of God.

Remember Balaam and his talking donkey? He was being disobedient to God and the Angel of the Lord was waiting for him with sword drawn. When Balaam saw the Angel, he bowed down on his face before Him in worship and reverence.

Gideon thought he was going to die when he encountered the Angel of the Lord in Judges 6.

David was afraid of the Angel of the Lord in 1 Chronicles 21.

When Jesus rose from the dead and the power of God coursed through His body, the guards who confronted the risen Christ, fell down as dead men.

Saul (to be renamed Paul) was confronted by Jesus Christ in His glory and power and we know full well what happened to him.

John was met by Jesus Christ in His immense glory and power, fell down as dead at His feet in Revelation 1. This was the very John who laid his head upon the chest of Christ. He was familiar with Jesus. He was friends with Jesus. But when he encountered Jesus without His humanness, he dropped like a rock. Why? Why do we read about such a contrast between the Jesus who walked the earth for 33 years and the Jesus who appeared before men in spiritual form?

Why did Jesus take on a human body in order to walk the earth? Why did Jesus leave His power and majesty behind when He was born of the virgin? I have heard it said before, The womb of Mary no more could have handled the power and majesty of Jesus anymore than the grave did. Nothing on earth can handle the glory of Jesus Christ. Jesus had to veil His power and glory in a human shell. Otherwise, anyone He came in contact with would have been destroyed.

This man, this Jesus, meek and lowly, unattractive and unassuming disguised Himself in an earth-suit in order to mingle, serve and live among humans. He humbled Himself to such a degree when He came to earth, that we cannot even begin to comprehend. Here is the all powerful, omnipotent Creator of heaven and earth, humbling Himself and taking on the form of a human being and coming to this dump of a planet. Yes, in many ways, earth is beautiful, but that’s because we have nothing to compare it to. Jesus Christ came from the perfect beauty of heaven. Earth is a junk yard in comparison. He walked this earth, got tired, hungry, angry, sad…died. God died! Imagine that? What humility. What love. What sacrifice.

When we think of Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby, being placed in the womb of Mary, being nourished by her, birthed by her, loved by her, remember this same Jesus is the Lord God of heaven and earth, whose presence causes men to die before Him. Who smote all the firstborn in Egypt? Who went out and slaughtered 185,000 soldiers of the Assyrian army in one night?

This Captain of Captains, this Warrior of warriors, His name is Jesus. He came to earth to serve, but never make the mistake of reducing this Man to that of a feminine, soft and lovely little fruit-cake. This same man Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He walked through the pages of the Old Testament and did God’s bidding. He will return in like manner and damn, slaughter and force the nations of earth to bow before Him. His robes will be drenched in the blood of His enemies and He will force the world to declare Him Lord.

This is the One we serve. This is the One we celebrate this Christmas. This is our King, Lord and Master and there is none other.

 

The Holly and the Ivy

I understand that many Christians (especially from the reformed side) won’t be celebrating Christmas due to its pagan roots and such, but please understand that my family and I look for opportunities to serve Jesus Christ and to give God glory in everything we do. Christmas, as far as I’m concerned gives as a glorious opportunity to reach out to our community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
1
The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.
2
The holly bears a blossom,
As white as the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
To be our sweet Saviour.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.
3
The holly bears a berry,
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to do us sinners good.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.
4
The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.
5
The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.
6
The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.