When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today.
It is a long time since 1832, longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.
In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” He totally missed the big news–man had flown!
Daily Bread, December 23, 1991.
Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler. One time he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, “I am your king!” The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn’t. Instead he said, “You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!” The King of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave himself to you and me. The Bible calls Him, “the unspeakable gift!”
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
1. It always amazes me how people are very content to go through life never really seeking the truth concerning what they believe about God, eternity, heaven and hell.
A new believer was on a plane with an intellectual (a man educated beyond his intelligence). He sneered at her reading the Bible. Asked if she believed it? “Yes.” “Jonah and the whale story?” “Yes.” “How did it happen?” “Don’t know, but I’ll find out when I get to heaven.” “What if Jonah isn’t there?” “Then I guess you’ll have to ask him for me.”
67% of American adults believe in a hell. But less than 25% believe they will go there, while 25% believe their friends will be there.
USA Today poll, December 1986.
You need not tell me there is no hell, for I already feel my soul slipping into its fires! Wretches, cease your idle talk about there being hope for me! I know I am lost forever.”
Sir Francis Newport, head of an English infidel club, on his deathbed.
2. Most people simply hope that they are right and everything will be ok somehow.
3. It seems to me that the claims of Christ are so staggering and the implications so drastic that I must determine the validity of the claims.
4. The Wise men actually were wise for seeking out at great cost the King of the Jews.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
1. God has promised that we will be able to find Him, if we do it with a sincere motive.
2. This Christmas season is the perfect time to seek the truth about God. Was he literally born in a stable, did God literally become man, was he really born of a virgin?
3. The evidence is there if you will seek the TRUTH.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
1. There is nothing that can explain the feeling of coming into the presence of the living God.
2. The knowledge that we are forgiven and our eternal destiny is secure provides a confidence that can only be explained with joy.
3. The promise that He would never leave us or forsake us under any circumstances gives great joy and peace.
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him
1. We give gifts at Christmas as a reminder of the gift that God gave to us, His Son.
2. Imagine the very God who created us choosing to become one of us in order to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.
3. The gift of God’s Son is just that a gift, we cannot pay for it, earn it or even deserve it, we can simply accept it.
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
1. The greatest gift we can give to the Lord is a willing and thankful heart.
2. The wise men presented gifts to the baby Jesus showing their worship and subjection.
3. What God desires from us is to surrender our will to His that He might continue to bless us and use us for His glory.
2 Cor 9:15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Conclusion:If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary 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.
Charles Swindoll, Growing Strong, pp. 400-1.