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Christmas – Its Origin & Tradition

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Christmas – Its Origin & Tradition

Luke chapter 1 and we’re going to cover a lot of ground tonight. As I was working on this and studying and praying and talking with my dear Bonnie she said, you know the Christmas that we’re surrounded by is so opposite of what we read in the Bible. We read about poverty we read about sacrifice we read about Christ coming to a humble estate having nothing as parents. What is Christmas now?

It’s glitter and lights and presents and big dinners and holiday parties you know what I mean.  It’s so antithetical it’s just opposite of the first but that’s what makes it so neat that we can reintroduce people perhaps in one way or another to the good news of Christ.

I saw a sign in a church and the sign said, “what Christmas means to me” and I was thinking about that that that’s indicative our culture. What suffering means to me, you know what the Bible means to me, what Christmas means to me. You know I think about what, does Christmas mean to God. That’s really what weighs on me. What response does He want?

The first ones right here it’s a Biblical Celebration

I just want to share with you some of the scriptural background for the Biblical Celebration of Christ-mus, the Incarnation when God became man. I think back in my college days and my favorite professor. I was a church history major and working doing my phd work in church history and I remember my favorite professor, my mentor, in the phd program Dr. Edward Panosian. He was Armenian not Arminian which is the opposite of Calvinist but Armenian as in the people that were almost decimated in a genocide that live in Turkey. Dr. Panosian was one of the dramatic actors in everything at the University and every Christmas he would do something for the student body in the Christmas program. He’d be part of the cast and I remember the one year he did the poem, God Became Man. When he got through that he actually had tears running down his face because of the reality of what happened. The ultimate sacrifice ever made was when God became man.

Look at what happened in Luke chapter 1.

We’ll look at verse 78 because the Biblical Celebration of Christmas is:

Number one the dawning of light on a dark planet. Luke 1 says this: through the tender mercy of God and don’t ever forget our salvation is solely through the tender mercy of God, we did not go seeking Him from the Garden of Eden and he has been seeking us you understand it’s a tender mercy of God.  Verse 78 continues with which the Dayspring it says in the New King James. There are different versions of that but basically that word is sunrise.  That’s what it means, sunrise, that’s what Jesus says He is the sunrise from on high, has visited us again. He didn’t start His existence right in the cradle He is just visiting and, what’s amazing is that the infant in the manger was the infinite one that was holding the universe together even at that time.

Remember Christ – by him all things consist even while he was laying there wrapped up in rags, he was holding the universe together now that’s amazing. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once put it this way he said Christ laying in the manger was much like the oak tree forests of the world laying in the cup of one acorn. You ever think about you know one acorn on the ground has the potential of making enough acorns to fill the whole earth with oak forests. Well, what he’s saying is Jesus Christ that little tiny babe had infinite power laying right there that little manger but yeah, he laid aside the independent exercise of it continuing.  In verse 79 to give light – Christmas’ is the coming of light and remember men love darkness rather than light because our deeds are evil. The scriptures are talking about all humans, but he came to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death people don’t like to think about death very much it’s a chilling sobering thought. We’re all actually in the shadow of death all the time I mean it’s looming up there, it’s coming, and it’s inevitable. Life is fragile and we don’t know how long we’re going to last but we’re sitting in the shadow of death and it says he came.  Listen to the verse 79 to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The Christmas Celebration is a Celebration that Christ has come as the dawning of light.

Then look at Galatians 4 and whenever you think of this wonderful time of the year, Christmas, these verses. Luke 1:78 Galatians 4:4 and 5 and first Timothy 3:16 should be somewhere penciled in because sooner or later you’re going to be called upon, to say like maybe you’ll be at some party and they’ll say well you’re pretty religious why don’t you say something about you know this event and you can just pull out your Bible and go to any one of these three passages and you can give the most succinct clear and powerful gospel presentation because that’s what this time of the year lends and that’s so important.

Look at Galatians 4:4 and 5 it says but when the fullness of the time had come, and in Christ is the Biblical Celebration of the fullness of time you see in the Garden of Eden, God promised Christ was coming.  He promised it and he said the seed of the woman is going to come and crush the serpent, he promised it was going to happen.  How come it didn’t happen just before the flood? I mean wouldn’t have been nice those people wouldn’t have had the drowned or why didn’t it happen you know sometime in the Old Testament when everything was really bad? Why didn’t he come right at the revival in Nineveh and all those Ninevites? It says right here look at verse 4, but when the fullness of the time had come. You know the coming of Jesus Christ was just right.

Number one it was geographically correct right it says in the Bible he had to come in Bethlehem.

It was chronologically correct because he had to come in the fullness of time when God said that there would be the ability for the good news to cross the planet. Until the Roman Empire came you couldn’t even sail across the Mediterranean without being endangered of pirates.  It was very dangerous in the ancient world to ship things. In fact, most people thought anything that they put on a boat including their family would never make it.

  • It was the fullness of time because there was universal peace. The Pax Romana as it’s called in history, 200 years of unbroken peace under the iron heel of Rome.
  • There was a universal language Koine Greek.
  • There was a universal law, the law of Rome.
  • There was Universal travel. You could actually mail a letter in Britain and it would get to India at the time of Christ. Isn’t that phenomenal did you know that didn’t happen again until the colonial period of the British Empire that was not enforced. You could be up at the wall dividing Scotland from England and drop a letter in the post and it would go on Roman roads, never to get off from an unbroken Roman Road except crossing the channel on a boat, until they got to the Himalaya Mountains. All along the way every day’s journey there was an inn and there were provisions and there were outposts and Garrison’s of soldiers that’s the fullness of time.

Biologically Jesus came correct because it says in Isaiah that a virgin would conceive. So, he came to the right spot on the map. He came to the right time period with the language, and the law, and the peace, and everything else. He came exactly right to the right person and he came even to the right family line. The Prophecy said he would come in David’s family. In the fullness of time he came, and it says that: God sent forth his son born of a woman under the law to buy us from slavery, who were under the law that we could be adopted as his sons. What a wonderful Jesus Christ we celebrate. That he came as a dawning of the light. He came as a fullness of time.

Now look at First Timothy 3 and verse 16 and this interestingly enough First Timothy 3:16 is one of the vestiges of early Christian hymns that we have.  We don’t have any hymn books from the 1st century but we do have these verses that the Church Fathers tell us used to be sung in the churches. Here’s one verse 16. I don’t know the music that was attached to it but it says God was manifested in the flesh that’s the Incarnation. When did that happen? At this season? Well I actually believe it was in March, but it doesn’t matter, this is when the world thinks about it and this is a time that Christ was manifested.

God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit. Christ was tried in the wilderness and found to be an obedient son. He was seen by angels; he was surrounded in the wilderness. He was surrounded by angels and ministered to. He was preached among the Gentiles and that’s the gospel going out. He was believed on in the world and that’s the great in gathering. He was received up into glory, that’s the Ascension. What a great verse.

There was a little pocket-sized doctrine where they celebrated the mystery of the Incarnation. The celebration of Christmas in our culture has really metamorphosize for us, into the celebrating of Christ. Who came as the light of the world, who came exactly when God wanted him to come, it was the crosshairs of history when the birth of Christ happened.

God says the fullness of time when he wanted it to happen and when he comes back to second time, it’s going to be the perfect time too. It’s a mystery and we can’t understand it.

Next in your notes we have to talk about not only the biblical celebration but the pagan connection. Now this is what you’ve all heard about studied, read about. Let me just share with you what one authority says about the pagan connection. Dr. Philip Schaff, he’s a noted church historian of the last century he wrote a monumental 8th volume history of the Christian Church and vol 3 at the bottom page 340 or 394 onwards where I’m quoting from. He wrote one of the most profound conservative works. It’s about two feel long on the Shelf. The history of the Christian Church in this work he relates that history records the ancients celebrated an annual victory of the Sun over the long winter night this religious festival was held near the winter solstice, every year.  Because every year between the 21st and the 22nd it’s the longest night and the shortest day.in ancient times it was called Sol Invictus because it’s when the Sun won out over the dark. Every day from then on gets longer until you get to the equinox which is in June 22nd 23rd. When the days start shortening down again it’s just part of the tilt of the earth and the revolution around the Sun and our Earth’s rotation. The darkest night is when the earth is closest to the Sun.

There has always been in all the pagan religions, as long as history’s recorded any of the pagan religions, there has always been a celebration and a festival at the time of the Solstice as they celebrated the Sun. Most ancient cultures worshiped the Sun.  The Egyptians worshiped the Sun, the Greeks worshiped the Sun, everybody worshiped the Sun because it’s so vital for life

Roman times there was the silent testimony of nature. People looking in nature could see that the season shown to his death and spring is life with resurrection. Especially if you live in a snow country. It is bleak and barren and desolate and snow. All of a sudden, it’ll warm up and you’ll see those green bulbs, the crocus would come up through the snow and it was just amazing to see that that resurrection and birth of life.  But that was a silent testimony

The public celebration of paganism is related to the Sol Invictus legend of the conquest of darkness by the Sun. This tradition was embodied in the Saturnalia festival.  Saturnalia, this festival was a feast of images. They made images of the Sun. It involved giving of gifts. Isn’t that interesting that they would give each other gifts and they would set free slaves it was a big time of the year, this Saturnalia festival. They would let loose slaves and give each other presents. Then they worshiped their images

There is within nearly every culture of the world little seeds of the gospel. Scientist have found that the flood legend is in almost every civilization on this planet. Somewhere in their literature it talks about the flood coming and hitting the planet and killing the people. There is for instance in the Chinese language, they have a sign. The sign for ransom is a cross and it has three little sticks on it. Isn’t that interesting, Christ and the two thieves on a cross is their Chinese picture for ransom. You see it in background of all the Earth’s cultures. Our little seeds

Let’s look at this picture of Christ coming to us as John 1 says. He came to his own and his own received him not. He came to a darkened world. He came as a sunrise from on high and He offered the free gift of salvation and liberation. They had all the right pieces, but they just hadn’t made the connection.

Now remember Acts chapter 17 this is why I don’t banish the Christmas tree and tear up all the Christmas cards, because what did Paul do when he was confronted with paganism? When he went to Athens do you remember he walked into Athens and he had just gotten done with a wonderful ministry in Philippi but he left there and came down to Athens. In Acts chapter 17 he was walking around Athens and he went, Oh, an altar to unknown God, oh there’s another one, and he walked all around the city and looked at all those altars. Then he said I’d like to tell you about the unknown God. What’s interesting is in 600 BC, 600 years before the Apostle Paul, what had happened was a black death had hit Athens. The people were dying like flies and an old seer, an old prophet of some sort came in from the hills from Macedonia. He came down, he said to them – you have offended a God you don’t know. What you have to do is you have to offer him sacrifices. He said what you do is bring in a whole bunch of sheep and let them loose and wherever they sit down pile up rocks and slaughter those sheep on top of those piles of rocks and make sacrifices to this unknown God. So, they brought in hundreds of sheep, let them loose. They built little altars and killed them and sacrifice them and left those altars in Athens. In Paul’s days there were altars all over the city right in the middle the road. If a sheep had stopped there, they killed him right there and put the altar up and they never moved those altars. What’s interesting is, according to the legend from 600 BC the plague stopped. So, there was kind of a vestige of a past memory of 600 years before in Athens that that there was some unknown, they didn’t know who he was but when they had killed these lambs their plague stopped. Paul said I’d like to tell you who the unknown God is, and he told them about Christ.

Did you know in the Saturnalia Festival they’re talking about setting slaves free? Jesus Christ came to set slaves free. You and I are slaves of sin. On the darkest night of the year, Jesus Christ came in the darkness the whole world was lost in a darkness of sin. The light of the world is Jesus.

 

The Christian regeneration of this pagan celebration

First, we have the celebration of Christmas, you know Christ’s coming to the earth.  Then we have this pagan deal that just kind of has a lot of parallels to what we’re talking about but it’s all paganism. What did the early church do with this now?  What happened was that the Christians were overcoming the Empire and I mentioned this on Sunday, every time they killed Christians a couple more people would come to Christ. The Emperors were faced with a growing wave of this. One of the Emperor’s decided he would try and decimate Christians and so he did. He went out and he destroyed in huge numbers all of the buildings, all of their Bibles, he killed all the leaders. Then at the end (his name was Julian the Apostate) he was going into battle against the Christians and he was struck down. As he was lying on the ground in the battlefield, he was laying in his own blood, and he looked up he shook his fist and he said you have conquered oh Galilean. He was a turning point in the persecution, and no one did quite as much as Julian the Apostate after that.

Finally, Christianity was the majority so Constantine in 310 AD, issued a law call Religio Licita which means the Freedom of Religion in the Empire. Three years later in 313AD he made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. The problem was, the whole Roman Empire was filled with gods and altars and temples. Most of those people were paid by the Emperor. He had all these Christians and he had all these pagans so what he did is he said, we’re going to just make one big Church. We’re just going to call it all Christianity. Have you ever wondered where candles and robes and beads and little idols all around the place come from? What about orders of monks and orders of priests, did you ever wonder where all that came from? It came by the inclusion of all the paganism. The early church never had anything to do with robes and candles and holy days and Lent.

Lent is the pagan celebration of the death of Ba’al and the morning of his mother for forty days until he came back to life at the end of forty days. When is Lent? It’s 40 days before Easter. All that is an old pagan thing that was sucked into the church in 313 AD.

How about purgatory? Where’d purgatory come from? Purgatory was an old myth that the Eastern religions believed in. It is kind of a limbo place you could go to get cleaned up and after you got cleaned up, you’d go to paradise. Paradise, that word comes from Persian language. It’s an old Persian idea of paradise that in fact, almost every Muslim believes when they die in battle they’re going to.  The church sucked all this in, in 313.

They started evaluating all the stuff that came into the religion. By the year 360 the church was celebrating the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It was not a big deal. They did not make a shrine out of Christ’s tomb until modern times because Christ wasn’t there. Every time I go to the Holy Land it’s one of those memorable spots. I love going to the garden tomb. The early church wasn’t enamored with the tomb. Why? They were enamored with the risen Christ, not the tomb. We use a tomb as a reminder that he’s risen but back then they said, hey he’s risen we’re not going to worry about the tomb.

By 386 AD Chrysostom, the golden mouth orator, preached in Constantinople which is present-day Istanbul. When he preached in Hagia Sophia, the people would sit there spellbound by the hour. He was a mesmerizing speaker. In 386 he was preaching without the birth of Christ there is no baptism. There was a group of people saying they were not going to celebrate this birth of Christ. We’re going to celebrate that he rose. Chrysostom says wait a minute, without the birth there’s no baptism, there’s no passion, there’s no resurrection, there’s no ascension, and there’s no pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Which is very logical. How did Christ get here? It’s the dawning of the light. It’s the mystery of the Incarnation. As the centuries went on the tradition grew to include epiphany. That’s the manifestation when the angel came and told Mary that Christ was going to come. It also included when Christ was circumcised, the eighth day after his birth. The Eastern Church celebrates not only the Epiphany, the manifestation, not only his birth, but they also celebrate on January 6th his circumcision eight days after his birth.

December 25th, where does that come from? Well, this was a Saturnalia festival of emancipation, of gift-giving, and of the triumph of light after the longest night. The Christian sees the truth implicit in this pagan tradition, that reflects Christ as the light of the world and his triumph over the night of sin. Luke 1, so you know what …I don’t have any problem with 12-25. Was Christ born on December 25th? Absolutely not. No Shepherd’s would sit out December 25th. They would die of exposure and they would get rained on. They didn’t even have their sheep out there at that time, they’d have them in in a protected place. Is it all right? Sure, I mean it’s been celebrated for 1700 years by Christians. Why because they said, hey if there is a group of people that are looking for emancipation and the triumph of light, we’re going to come to the celebration and say I’d like to tell you about the unknown God.

Evergreen trees where did that come from? You might have some friends that are opposed to trees and they say that they’re a fertility symbol or something like that.  Evergreen trees were the symbol of eternal life. Turn to Isaiah 60 in your Bibles. Martin Luther the great reformer born in 1483 was saved after a very difficult arduous journey to Christ or looking for Christ actually. Christ was drawing him to himself. If you know anything about Martin Luther’s life, he almost starved himself to death. Then thunder or lightning struck near him. He cried out and made a vow. He went to Rome and he went up to Scala Sancta. Those are the sacred stairs and he crawled up those things on his knees. They are the 13 steps of Pilate, when he came to the judgment Hall. Tradition is, every time you go up them you lessen your years in purgatory and if you go on your knees it doubles. So, he went up those stairs on his knees and he was doing all this at the holiday period. Somehow, he got into a part of the Vatican he wasn’t supposed to get into, and he came across an orgy going on inside the Vatican. A drunken orgy of the different people that work in there. He was so disillusioned that he came back, and he almost killed himself with deprivation and starvation. Finally, one of his helpers said why don’t you look in the scriptures. Wow and he did. He started reading the Bible. He got to Roman’s and it says the just shall live by what faith and it dawned on him. He was gloriously converted. That was how the Reformation 1517 started. He nailed those questions up in Latin. He wanted to talk about them at the university, but they were translated. Gutenberg had just about 30 years before invented the printing press and so they started cranking those things off and translating them. Suddenly all of Europe was prepared by God and they started listening. So, Martin Luther started a church right out of the Roman Catholic Church he called a Lutheran Church, or they named it after him. He started bringing traditions in. In about 1520 he introduced Christmas trees or evergreen trees to Christmas in the Reformation period as a picture of our endless life in Christ. What he did is, he brought into his family. He lived in the in the former monastery attached to the church, attached to the University. He brought in from outside an evergreen tree with candles on it lit. He walked in with the tree and sat it down. He said Christ is the light of the world and he gives us endless life.  You know what, it caught on. Most people don’t realize it’s a symbol of everlasting life and Christ the light of the world. Look at Isaiah 60 in verse 13 – “The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the pine, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; And I will make the place of My feet glorious. That’s the verse he came in quoting when he brought his little tree in. He said if God’s sanctuary would be beautified by the box tree, the Cypress, and the pine; he said I’m bringing in an evergreen pine tree. Because of that I don’t think it’s any problem.

Thirdly candles of course picture that Christ is the light of the world. Remember John 8 verse 12 Jesus said I am the light of the world. A candle is a beautiful picture of Christ of the world.

Holly, it speaks to the thorns of his crown. Matthew 27:29 tells us that they took a crown of thorns and when they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it in his head and a reed in his right hand and they bowed him saying before him hail the king of the Jews.

Red of course is the color of Christmas. It speaks of Christ’s blood and death

Gifts, our reminder of the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus. I hope that you include in your Christmas celebration a gift to the Lord Jesus. All the other stuff is ancillary, it’s all secondary. How many people almost have ulcers, I haven’t got all the gifts, i’ve got to go back out into the crowd – you know though the malls packed but it’s open till 11 o’clock, i’ve got to go, i’ve got to get everybody a present, and the most important person gets left out. Do we labor as much to give a gift to Christ as we do endlessly going over our gift lists and rushing to the post office or wherever package place. Each of the magi gifts speak to a component of his incarnation, majesty, and life, bitterest agony, and death. He is God’s perfect gift to us. Remember the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold – his royalty.  Frankincense – as it’s the spice and the incense of Kings. Myrrh – you know the whole idea that Christ had the wine with myrrh in it that they tried to give him to deaden the pain. All of those spices spoke of his incarnation, his crucifixion, and who he truly was.

You’ve probably heard of the Yule Log. That was a symbol by which all the men in the family would carry a log large enough to burn for 12 days. It was about the size of a telephone pole. The early church started this as they brought this great big log in and all the men in the family even to the smallest one, would all carry in the log. What’s that supposed to be? It’s supposed to be like a cross. Then they’d stick it in the hearth and every day they’d keep pushing it more into the fire so it would burn for 12 days. The idea is that they were identifying with cry his cross. The fire was always started with a fragment from the previous year’s fire. This refers to the eternal existence of Christ. He was around before his birth. It speaks of warmth, unity, joy, and the security of endless life.

Mistletoe was the ancient symbol from the Roman times. It was under the mistletoe that old enmities and broken friendships were restored. If you had someone that you had stopped talking to years ago, in Roman times you would be at the Saturnalia festival, stand under the mistletoe and say I’m sorry. Mistletoe became a picture of Christ, as the one who took away the enmity and gave peace to us with God. Romans 5:1 says that therefore we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and Romans 8:1 says there’s now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  Christ is our peace and he is the one that that makes ultimate reconciliation for us because we have been justified through Christ.

Bells are associated with ringing out good news. The Apostle Paul used this term in Thessalonica . He said that from you rang out, sounded out the good news in person. That’s why they always at Bethlehem Square, ring the bells on Christmas Eve and Christ is the good news gospel. In the best words you can tell anybody our words about Christ. Christmas Eve is a time when we remember that Christ came on the darkness night of Earth.

The Shepherds were watching the Lambs that were used for the sacrifices in the temple. Did you ever wonder why the angels showed up the Shepherd’s? Why didn’t they go to carpenters or fishermen? Jesus seemed to have a propensity for fishermen, right? He called a lot of them, why did they show up to the Shepherd’s? The sheep raising business was primarily associated with the temple. So, those men spent their life raising spotless lambs. They were very careful with their lambs because they wanted them to qualify for sacrificial use. This was really a part of their life. They thought a lot about it. They saw families come and take those lambs. The families held them, and they took them into their homes because that’s what you’re supposed to do at Passover. The families get attached to the lamb and they held it in their house. The kids would pet it and it would become a loved member of the family. Then they take it and kill it for the family’s sin. It was to that group of people the angels came and announced the Lamb of God. They spent their whole life growing pictures of the Lamb of God and now the real one has come. That’s why they just rush to see. They want to see what God was doing because their life was revolving around the sacrifices of the temple and the great news was that the lamb to end all sacrifices had appeared.

There’s a European tradition you never hear about this nowadays. Christmas pie was an old tradition that uses a mince pie with a variety of spices to remember the spices of the Magi. For centuries it was made in a manger shape. They made it look like a boat kind of a manger. We have lost a lot of the Christian elements of all this.

How about some modern traditions? In 1822 Clement Moore wrote a poem for his children that’s become immortalized. Taws’ the night before Christmas …

Santa Claus of course is a Dutch word. Legend says Santa Clause was Saint Nicholas, an early bishop of a church in Asia Minor (the modern country of Turkey). He became aware of some desperate needs in his congregation. A family was going to have to sell their children into slavery. So, one night he came and left money on their doorstep and it was gold in a stocking. Now that’s the tradition that’s come up through a lot of church history books. From that tradition St. Nicholas was associated with this good man that brought gifts at Christmas time.

The Christmas card was started in 1844. An English artist named William Dobson drew up some pictures in England of the season.  They found local use there and soon spread to America. Two years later Cole and Horsley saw the commercial potential of this growing tradition and started production of what now is over a 1 billion dollar industry. Christmas cards are over a billion dollars a year. 4 billion cards are sent annually, and it goes up every year.

Don’t lose the spiritual depth of Christmas because of its Pagan Association. Especially younger Christians.  In 1 John 2 it says I write unto you little children because you know your sins are forgiven, I write unto you young men because you’re strong, you’re overcoming the evil one.  The first two steps in the Christian life is: the baby level, if you know your sins are forgiven and the next level up is you start fighting the devil. A lot of times young Christians, if they hear there’s any paganism associated with Christmas, they don’t want anything to do with it. Don’t lose the spiritual depth of when the whole world is talking about Christ just because it has a pagan Association. Now we have to be careful about that because we do have to be aware of some of the very false things that have been brought in, Lent is one of them, there’s no Christian connotation to. Lent, that is totally pagan, but Christmas really has an implicit message in it and it’s very powerful.

 

Don’t miss the spiritual delight of Christmas because of the commercial association. Don’t get all dried up spending all the time, on all the things that really don’t have anything to do with Christmas. Christmas is a lowly manger, a lowly birth, by a despised woman that people had relegated to immorality. Something is going on, that’s the wonder of Christmas. There are four women mentioned in Christ’s pedigree. Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabite. Bathsheba was another man’s wife. The Bible says that Solomon was born of her, that had been Uriah’s wife. It doesn’t even give her a name. Then Tamar, Tamar was a woman who had a child from her father-in-law, that’s called incest. Rahab, what do we associate with Rahab? Rahab the saint? Rahab the harlot. Isn’t interesting that the only for women mentioned in Christ’s family tree are all notorious sinners. Do you know why? So we’re all the men by the way, they’re all wicked sinners who died like all sinners do. Every one of the women that are brought into Christ’s lineage are pictures of grace. That’s a reminder, everyone that’s in Christ is a picture of grace. That’s the message of Christmas. God only takes losers, he only takes sinners, he only takes desperately ill people. He said I didn’t come for the well and there aren’t any well people. A lot of them think they’re well and they don’t want him. He came for the sick. Only Christ has the antidote in his blood, in whom we have redemption through his blood. Even the forgiveness of sin. So, don’t lose the Spiritual delight of Christmas.

Don’t forget the spiritual despair of the world because of Christmas and its wonders. You know we can get so caught up in the cookies, the lights, all the gift-giving and all the giving money at the post office because the fella is there ringing their bells. We forget that this is one of the most despair filled times of the year. Drunkenness, people trying to wash away their emptiness is at an all-time high this time of year. Suicides, it’s just incredible how desolate this time of the year is.

Give a gift to Jesus. Plan and think of a way to do it. Don’t mail it off, he said if you give it to the least of these, you’re giving it to me. It’s giving it to people in the name of Christ. Secondly like Christ give to those who can’t repay you. Don’t give a great gift to someone that’s going to give you back a great gift because you know you want something nice back, give to the people that that won’t even acknowledge it. So, give to those who can’t give back

Go out at night and sense the darkness outside at night. Then thank God for sending the light. Remember the next three days are the darkest longest nights of a year, just go out there. Just sense what it would be like if you were in the blackness of darkness forever.  That’s exactly what the light of the world said is going to happen to people who don’t come to him. They are going to experience the blackness of darkness forever. At the core of the Sun, the atoms, the electron shells have been stripped away and the atoms are compressed so closely together that it’s 16 million degrees centigrade, which is almost the hottest known temperature in the universe.  It is black as black can be. Light cannot escape that. The density is too high, and light can’t get out of there. Did you know the Lord described that as hell? He said its intense fire in the blackness of darkness. Anybody who doesn’t come to Christ genuinely and becomes born-again is going to experience that forever. Go out in the dark and thank God for sending the light.

Read the scriptures to your family. Don’t just read the Christmas cards and don’t just read the Christmas story books, read the Bible.

Start some traditions that point to Christ. A Jesse tree or something to worship Christ. Start an Advent tradition. Start traditions that point to Christ.

Enjoy this time of the year don’t lose the season for the rush.

At this time of the year let’s be giving. As the Lord said it’s more blessed to give than to receive. Let’s give and if at all possible, give out the good news this time of the year.  Most people don’t know anything about the Bible. Go out of your way to at this time of the year. Have gospel tracts. Talk about the light of the world. Talk about Christmas.