Sunday, December 16, 2007

How The Christmas Story... (* see note!)

...Becomes Our Christmas Story - Part 1

(*This was originally posted two years ago. I was asked to speak at the Ladies Christmas Party at church. This is what I said, except I will break it up into three parts and post over the next three days.)

If we were asked to give one-word descriptions on what Christmas means to us, the thoughts or themes that come to mind might look like this:

Peace, Family, Hope, Love, and Traditions

Just to name a few.

I also have a few one-word descriptions that pop into my head as we approach this exciting time of year. I will be adding them to our list as we go along.

As I sat down to pray and study for this devotional I began to have a Charles Dickens sort of theme begin to run in my head. I began to reminisce about the joys, and sometimes heartache, of Christmas’ past. As I studied I began to get excited about Christmas Future. Yet I am also aware that this is December 2005, it is important to be grounded and truly living in the present.

One of my very first thoughts (that I will add to our list) when I think about Christmas is: Baby. This has always been a focus for me because I have had a great love for babies for as long as I can remember! Growing up we had a very small manger scene that I used to play with. It had glass figurines of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. My favorite piece of that manger scene was always the baby Jesus. There is just something incredibly hopeful, sweet and new about a baby.

I found this definition about babies:

A baby is a small member of the home that makes love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, the bankroll smaller, the home happier, the clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.

If you are a parent you know this is true! Mary and Joseph could probably shake their head in agreement with this statement and yet they knew that this baby King, named Jesus, was a promise fulfilled by God.

Which bring us to:

Christmas Past - Emmanuel God with Us

I love the book of Isaiah. I often find myself there in times when I need encouragement. Perhaps this is because Isaiah was known as the prophet of redemption. He spoke of Christ’s birth long before He was born. God used Isaiah to foretell the future of what was to come. In Chapter 7 we see Isaiah encouraging Ahaz, the King of Judah, whose enemies are plotting to over throw him. God has told Isaiah that this plot will not be carried out but Ahaz must stand firm. The Lord says to Ahaz in verse 10 of the Seventh Chapter:

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz,  “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

Here we see that God is saying: Ahaz! from the depths to heights I am with you!

Ahaz refuses to ask. But God in his perfect plan and mercy gives him a sign anyway. Through Isaiah these words are spoken:

“ Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” –Isaiah 7:14

This is the fun part…Now we get to flip to the bible to Matthew 1 and take a peek at how the future for Ahaz and the house of King David is to perfectly unfold.

18 this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,
 because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel”
—which means, “God with us.”

Emmanuel. God with us.

God’s Word is trustworthy. We can believe Him. When we see things that were predicted in Scripture past, it is always fulfilled in the future. I love the richness of the words of God that we have just read. It reminds me that long before Christ came as a tiny babe we can see God had a plan. It was not hidden from Ahaz and his people- nor is it hidden from us. God’s plan of salvation was born in a stable. So that plain, unroyal people like you and me could approach him and receive the gift that came in swaddling clothes.
This baby King, the Son of God, grew to be a man who would offer us the greatest gift…Himself. He would willingly die to save us from our sin, and rise from the dead to give us a future; to prepare a home for those who believed that his gift was real.
So that we might always know Emmanuel – God with us!
Tomorrow: Christmas Future!