In Anticipation of Christmas

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11)

First I would like to wish each and every one of you a Christ Filled Christmas. As our Lord and Savior is the reason for this day of celebration, this moment in the year that we remember the greatest gift given unto man, this day that is representative of the day that the Israel Nation long awaited for sense Genesis 3:15 thousands of years prior, and the day that forever changed the history of mankind.

Many times in God’s Word we have been told to remember. In the King James Bible we are told 148 times by God to remember. The present is moving through history and even the moment when you starting listening to this devotion is now in the past. What we believe, what we have become, and what we will be, is governed by the history of the past and by the history of our life. History is important then; history is the foundation by which we grow from into the future. History is sacred, as if one who would want to influence the future he must change the past. This very act is happening in our country today, it is happening throughout the world, history is being re-written to satisfy the self-serving desires of the contemporary world. This is why God in His infinite wisdom told His people to remember so that His truth could be passed on to the future generations. To change the truth of the past is to perpetuate the worlds lie into the future. This is why the scriptures were written under the influence of the Holy Spirit so that today we may know the truth. Isaiah the prophet wrote this passage that we may remember the truth of God. “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;” (Isaiah 46:9)

For thousands of years the Israel nation had been faithful in waiting with great anticipation for the coming of their Messiah. They knew the scriptures and they believed the promises of the Lord, as He had proven Himself many times in their history. The Israel nation passed the truth down from generation to generation and they never grew tired of their anticipation for the coming of their Messiah. They knew the promise of the Lord spoken to then through the prophet Isaiah, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7) This is the Messiah they were waiting for, this is the Messiah they desired, as they were living under the oppression of the Roman government, and they needed deliverance.

Israel was looking for the conquering Messiah that would free them for their oppressors and drive away their enemies, establish the everlasting Kingdom, establish an everlasting peace, and uphold them as the chosen nation of God. They were looking for a Messiah that would come with the Heavenly Host and would destroy all those who opposed them and not though of a Messiah that would be armed with the supreme weapon of Love. I have learned in my days that bullets and bombs do not change the hearts of men, but love will and can change the hardest of hearts and that love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8) I am amazed that the Israelites who were so well versed in the scriptures missed their Messiah when He came on that long ago Holy Night. Did they just not want to see the price of their salvation? Were their eyes so fixed on this world that could not see the world to come? Was the self-righteousness, self-pride, lust of the flesh, and lust of the eye, (1 John 2:16) more to them than humble worship of the Creator? Maybe, I don’t know, but they paid no mind to the rest of Isaiah’s prophecy, “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:2-12)

On that Holy Night in Palestine the lowly shepherds were willing to believe. I find it interesting that the angels would come to the lowly shepherds to announce the arrival of the Savior and not to the Kings and heads of state. Is that not just like a loving Father to come to those who realize their need and not to those who are so filled with themselves. Who would not be afraid with angelic beings shouting from above and light filling the area with truth, who would not be humbled, and would the kings with mighty armies like the Pharaoh of the days of old be afraid of an Almighty God? I find this thought rolling around my mind that we, like the Good Shepherd, are shepherds as well watching the flock. We, the followers of Christ, are called to tend the flock of this world leading them to the light of His truth by our testimony of word and deed. Is this not so, are we not His shepherds? Are we not that ambassadors of His Kingdom here in the far country, traveling through the wilderness, representing the King of kings and Lord of lords, serving Him by serving our neighbor, and planting the seed of His love and truth into their heart? (2 Corinthians 5:20)

I say yes! We are called to serve the Lord, we are called to serve our brothers and sisters is Christ, (Hebrews 10:25) we are called to serve out neighbors, (Matthew 19:19) and we are called to preach the gospel. (Matthew 28:19) This is the day, Christmas, that the Lord came down from His throne and was given unto man that through Him we can have salvation, that the self-inflicted curse that came from our fall in the garden can be erased, and that once perfect relationship we had with our Creator can be restored. That the Lord has made and let us rejoice and be glad within it, let us praise His holy name, and let us remember what He has done for you and me.

I find it interesting that He came down from His throne, heralded by His Heavenly Host, to be born in a stable, and paced in a feeding troth clothed in swaddling cloth. The King of kings and Lord of lords who once was clothed in robes of majestic purple with a train that filled His Temple. (Isaiah 6:1) The King that once smelled the blossoms from the Tree of Life now breathing the odor of animal dung. The King who once held the royal scepter now twisting the straw of a manger. The King who once listened to the praises of the Heavenly Choir of angels now listening to the lowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep. He the Lord of all, who could be anywhere He desired, chose this setting, and I find it a fitting place for the most majestic One to be. For He created all and all the immeasurable universe is beneath Him and all that there is worships Him in obedience to His will with the exception of the crown of His creation man. Why not them be born amongst the obedient and call the obedient to come and worship His arrival. How fitting then that His shepherds would come to adore Him for His is the manna from Heaven. (John 6:58)

“So this is Christmas, and look what we have done. Another year older and a new one just begun.” (John Lennon) What have we done and what are we going to do? Is our life as it should be? I know mine is not. We all have this moment, it is the only one we have, and let’s use it to make a change. Let us remember this Christmas, that day that our Savior came to save that which is lost, let us remember that we have been saved because there is something better that we can be, we can be as a child of God, abiding in Him, and He in us. (1John 3:24)

As our brothers in the faith of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob continue to wait upon the Lord, continue to wait for their Messiah to come, the Messiah of Isaiah 9:6-7, let us also realize that another Christmas is coming. We must till that moment be about His Kingdom business. We pray for His Kingdom to come, we are praying that His Kingdom come into us. We pray for His will to be done, we pray that we are in His will. Let us then be about His Kingdom business. Let us not be as the foolish virgins but watch and pray that when He comes we will be ready. (Mark 14:38) We know that not even the angels know when but at the time they will herald His coming. It is a mystery to us all, to all His creation and only the Father knows when. It will be as it was for the shepherds of the night in Palestine a surprise. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) As our brothers in the faith are patiently waiting for their Messiah so too should we, praying, trusting, obeying, and working for His Kingdom to come. Because all of God’s promises have been and shall come to truth. “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54)

Lastly I would like to wish each and every one of you a Christ Filled Christmas. As our Lord and Savior is the reason for this day of celebration, this moment in the year that we remember the greatest gift given unto man, this day that is representative of the day that the Israel Nation long awaited for sense Genesis 3:15 thousands of years prior, and the day that forever changed the history of mankind. Let us also be in the same anticipation for the moment when our Savior shall come again, that day when He not only rules from the throne of our hearts but also shall sit on the throne of David and establish His government to which there will be no end. “And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isiah 2:4)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

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