And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:41-44)
WHEN GABRIEL, AN ANGEL OF HIGH RANK, announced to the priest, Zachariah, that his wife, Elizabeth was going to have a child (they were both well-past the age for childbearing), Zachariah clouded up in unbelief. Gabriel told him he wouldn’t be able to speak a word until the baby was born. That’s part of the Christmas story but it is seldom mentioned. Well, just what is Christmas? Linus, friend of Charlie Brown, told America what Christmas is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1odLOHFX7o (1:23)
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT THE CHRIST WHO CAME TO DIE FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD and about a king who is to sit upon the throne of David as the ruler of the world. There’s a Christmas that born-again, Bible-believing Christians celebrate with several traditions, like food, evergreen trees, decorations and special music. We notice in our text that Elizabeth and Mary rejoiced in the joy and power of the Holy Spirit. That’s the TRUE spirit of Christmas!
THERE IS A LIGHTER SIDE OF CHRISTMAS that has been embraced by saint and sinner alike. It has no official designer and is a hodge-podge of ideas and practices that have come together through 20 centuries of observance. Simply stated: Christmas became a time of home and of giving to others, especially the poor. Over time, the Christian roots have morphed into something hard to recognize as “Christian.”
CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE GAVE US THE POEM: “A Visit from St. Nicholas” or “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in 1823 which was memorized by millions of children. It gave life and legitimacy to the mythical man who traveled with reindeer. In 1843 Charles Dickens presented a Christmas that targeted giving to the poor in his book: “A Christmas Carol.” Although it only sold about 6,000 copies that year, it later exploded into many theater productions, movies and television productions that has reached millions and millions. The poem and the book came in a time of poverty for most and extreme poverty for many. There were also many hungry, ragged street children.
THERE'S AN ARTIFICIAL CHRISTMAS THAT IS CELEBRATED nominal Christians and non-Christians that “celebrates giving” and “celebrates celebration.” The artificial Christmas has some of the most beautiful decorations and some of the best music. I notice in the film productions that it always has to snow big snowflakes to be a real Christmas. “I’m Dreaming of A White Christmas” is a beautiful song. Rich harmony, great word pictures! “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” beautiful song; I love to play it, skippy, good harmony. “Carol of the Bells” is hard to beat. (I’m not into Jingle, Jingle, Jingle Rock.” (Spare me!)
IF YOU WANT REAL CHRISTMAS, YOU MUST HAVE REAL CHRISTMAS MUSIC, not just beautiful music. About all the church hymnals have a collection of solid Christmas songs. For something special, how about “The Hallelujah Chorus?”
“THE LEGEND OF SANTA CLAUS CAN BE TRACED BACK HUNDREDS OF YEARS to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends.” (Google) This monk DID NOT have a sleigh and reindeer and go down chimneys or hire himself out at department stores to promote Christmas sales of merchandise.
WHEN I WAS SIX, I BEGAN WONDERING HOW "he" got around to everybody’s house in America and how he could get down our stove pipe. Sometimes stories get stretched beyond reason. When little kids start rolling their eyes, you know the story is lacking. In our day, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” says he’s making a list, checking it twice, knows who has been naughty and nice; knows when you are sleeping, knows when you’re awake.
Hmmmm…SOUNDS LIKE SANTA CLAUSE HAS TAKEN ON THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD... who is all-knowing and omni-present. Gotta be careful about what you allow to be taught at your house. God says He is a jealous God. The ten tribes of Israel and later the two tribes of Judah lost everything they had and were hauled off to Assyria and to Babylon because they celebrated the gods of their neighbors.
GOD SAID OF HIMSELF: Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:22-23) I decided a long time ago that the mythical man in the red suit who takes to himself the attributes of God can’t have God’s place at our house. There are so many wonderful ways of celebrating Christmas by focusing on the real reason for the season: Jesus!
AMERICA HAS GONE THROUGH SEVERAL YEARS OF “Christmas warfare.” Some people wanted to get rid of Merry Christmas and leave us stuck with Happy Holiday. One year, a little grocery chain here on Sand Mountain, Alabama, painted their big window with “Happy Holiday.” People didn’t like it and said so. One year and it was over. It’s been “Merry Christmas” ever since.
THE BIG ADVERTISERS ON TV HAVE TAKEN A LITTLE LONGER but some are coming back around to selling “Merry Christmas” merchandise. “Merry Christmas” runs deep in the American psyche. It’s not just Bible-believing Christians who are insisting on “Merry Christmas.” Dennis Prager, a Jewish talk show host, is a strong supporter of “Merry Christmas.” https://www.dennisprager.com/jews-wish-merry-christmas/
CHRISTMAS RUNS DEEP IN AMERICA and the people don’t want it messed with. Christmas is not about selling toys, trinkets, and Toyota’s, but it is a major consideration as we look at the cultural relationship of Christmas to America.
CELEBRATION RUNS DEEP AND LONG IN THE BIBLE. God taught the Jewish people to celebrate toward Him. Every year, they were to come to Jerusalem three times and there were seven “feast” days for them to observe and enjoy. When the Jews returned to their homeland after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, they were dismayed, very sad that they had lost so much. They wept. Nehemiah comforted them with these words:
And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:9-10)
EVEN SO, WE SHOULD CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF CHRIST, whatever time of year it took place. December 25th is as good as anytime. Celebrate with family and friends and church gatherings. If you’re alone, celebrate with the Lord. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
DECEMBER 20, 2018 - THURSDAY
A.M. Micah 4:5 P.M Revelation 11
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verses to Memorize:
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Song for Today:
How Great Our Joy! (2:02) (1st-2nd Grades: Calvary Christian School)
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