Archive for December, 2011

The 12 Verses of Christmas #9

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

Luke 1:46-49

The virgin Mary is obviously one of the central characters in the Christmas story, as she was the human vessel through which the Lord Jesus Christ came to the Earth.  I’m sure that we have all thought about what a tremendous honor that she must have felt when the angel told her what was going to happen.  I’m sure we have all wondered how it felt knowing that the Saviour of the world was, at the time, a tiny baby there in her arms.  One thing we do know is this: as she said, all generations have called her “blessed.”  Out of all of the women ever to enter the human race, she was the one that God picked to bring His Son into the world.  If that isn’t “blessed,” I don’t know what is.

Today, in thinking about the whole Christmas season and the whole spirit of Christmas, I want to look at one thing that Mary said here: “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”  If there is one thing that we should be doing at Christmas, it is magnifying the Lord.  Mary’s soul magnified the Lord because He had just given her what was probably the greatest honor that has ever been bestowed on a human.  Our soul should magnify the Lord because He has given us the greatest gift that was ever given to humankind: “a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

If anyone has a reason, along with Mary, to magnify the Lord, it is us.  And if there was ever a time to magnify the Lord, it is at Christmas.  Let us not forget to maginfy Him this Christmas season!

The 12 Verses of Christmas #8

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

Matthew 2:1-3, 7-8

Yesterday, we looked at the wisdom of the wise men in searching for the Saviour and then worshipping Him.  Today, we see the “anti-wise man,” Herod.  Although Satan was behind all attempts to destroy the Lord Jesus, we can say that Herod was the human antagonist in the Christmas story.  He was, at the time, the earthly ruler of the Jews and as such, wanted no challenge to his authority.  He wanted this new “King” destroyed.

On a side note, I find it interesting that mighty King Herod would be so intimidated by a little baby.  Deep down, he must have known that this was no ordinary child.

Herod attempted to use the wise men to get to the baby Jesus by telling them to let him know where the child was so that “…I may come and worship him also.”  There we see the difference between Herod and the wise men.  They doth said the same thing.  They both said that they wanted to worship Him.  The difference was in their hearts.  The wise men honestly wanted to worship Him.  They had searched diligently for Him.  On the other hand, Herod was lying to cover His hateful, treacherous heart.  They said the same thing, but only the wise men believed it in their hearts.

That is still true today.  Christmas is in our hearts.  Many people will celebrate “Christmas,” but how many will truly worship the Saviour?

The 12 Verses of Christmas #7

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 

Matthew 2:1-2, 11

No discussion of the major verses dealing with Christmas would be complete without mentioning the wise men.  There have been songs written about them (“We Three Kings”), and they are a staple in every Nativity Scene and Christmas play in the world.  They are popular for a good reason.  They came from far away “to worship him.”

That is what Christmas is about- worshipping and honouring Him.  They came searching for Him.  They fell down and worshipped Him when they found Him.  And they gave Him their “treasures.”  Those are the things that we should be doing.  We should be searching for Him.  And, once we find Him, we should be worshipping Him and giving Him anything that we have.

These wise men searched for Jesus to worship Him.  We have all seen the signs that say “wise men still seek Him.”  That is very true.  Wise men do still seek Him.  And, those who are not wise can seek Him for the wisdom that they lack.  Every man, woman, and child on the earth should be seeking Him.  Whatever we need, we can find it in Him.

One more thing to note is that the wise men were paying attention.  They saw His star in the east and were come to worship Him.  The star was apparently there, but His own people missed it.  Herod could have seen it.  His scribes could have seen it.  But they weren’t paying attention.  Maybe the simple fact that were paying attention and ready to worship the Lord was what made these men “wise.”

O Come All Ye Faithful (Hymn)

O Come All Ye Faithful
John Wade

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;

Refrain
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;

Refrain

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;

Refrain

This is another of my favorite Christmas hymns.  The refrain tells us all we need to know about what Christmas is all about: “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”  That’s it.  We should be adoring and magnifying Christ the Lord, both during the Christmas season all and year long.  So, this Christmas season, come, let us adore Him.

The 12 Verses of Christmas #6

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD:

Isaiah 11:1-2

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Matthew 3:16

The prophecies of the birth of Jesus Christ are so detailed and their fulfillments so perfect that there can be no doubt as to the accuracy of the Bible.  There can also be no doubt as to the fact that Jesus is indeed the Christ.  In this prophecy from the book of Isaiah, we are told that the rod out of the stem of Jesse, a “Branch” would grow out of his roots.  Sure enough, Jesus was born into the house of David, which was “of the stem of Jesse.”

In the second part of the prophecy, it is foretold that “the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him…”  That prophecy was also clearly fulfilled in Matthew 3.  Notice again the perfection of the fulfillment of this prophecy.  It is said that the spirit of the LORD would rest upon Him.  In Matthew 3:16, the spirit of God descends and rests upon Him.  And the spirit of the Lord is the spirit of wisdom and understanding.  It is the spirit of counsel and might.  And it is the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.  The Spirit is all of those things.

That Branch that grew out of the roots of Jesse would soon become our Saviour!  What a wonderful verse prophesying our wonderful Saviour!

The 12 Verses of Christmas #5

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

In these verses of prophecy, we are given a glimpse into the nature of the Christ child that would be born of a virgin in the little town of Bethlehem.  Verse six is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible.  “Unto us a child is born.”  And “unto us a son is given.”  He came to us and for us.  What a wonderful Saviour!

Speaking of His being a wonderful Saviour, the first name given here is the name “Wonderful.”  He is Wonderful.  So much more than just an attribute of the Lord, it is His very nature.  He is both wonderful and Wonderful.

His name is Counsellor.  He helps us and teaches us.  He is our Counsellor.  His name is The mighty God.  At the time, He may have looked like a helpless baby.  But He was and is The mighty God.  His name is The everlasting Father.  Think of that.  Think of the tiny baby in the manger being the everlasting Father.  But He was.  His name is the Prince of Peace.  He is not only the source of peace, He is peace incarnate.  He is the very definition of peace.  He is at peace with the Father.  He made the way for us to be at peace with the Father.  He helps us to be at peace with each other.  He gives us peace in the storms of life.  He is the Prince of Peace.

Truly, unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given!

The 12 Verses of Christmas #4

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:23

Yesterday we looked at the prophecy and fulfillment of the place of the Saviour’s birth.  Today, we see the mode of His birth.  Jesus was not just any man.  He was different from every other man who had ever been born in the history of the world.  So His entrance into the world would be different than that of every other man in the history of the world.  He was perfect and His entrance into the world was perfect.

Man’s seed had been defiled by sin with Adam.  Every human born since the fall of man has been born with Adam’s fallen sinful nature.  That is our heritage from our “father” Adam.  With the birth of Jesus, God circumvented man.  He bypassed the man and He bypassed the man’s fallen, sinful nature.  It never ceases to amaze me just how perfect God’s plan is.  Everything fits together perfectly, just as you would expect with a plan directly from God.

The virgin birth is at once a perfect sign and a simple test of faith.  It is a perfect sign because it happened only once in the history of mankind.  There could be no mistaking this sign.  It is an utter impossibility, which would indicate a miracle from God if it happened.  At the same time, it is a test of faith.  Humanly, we would not believe this story.  A virgin could not conceive – it is humanly impossible.  Who would believe that?  Me.  And every other Bible believer in the world.  Thus the sign is also a test of faith.

The prophecy was there, and a virgin did conceive and did bring forth a Son, and did call His name Immanuel, for at that time, God truly was with us.

The 12 Verses of Christmas #3

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David: )

Luke 2:4

It’s always interesting to see a prophecy in the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament.  This is the prophecy that foretold the place that the Saviour would be born.  If for no other reason, I would think a person would be forced to believe the Bible just because of all of the varied prophecies from the Old testament that He fulfilled.

Bethlehem was a small, seemingly insignificant place.  It would not be the place that people would expect the King of the earth, the God-man, the Christ-child to be born.  It was “little among the thousands of Judah…”  It was not the capital city.  It was not the biggest city.  But it was the city that God chose to be the location for the birth of His only begotten Son.

While we might consider the location of the Saviour’s birth to be insignificant, there is nothing insignificant with God.  Every detail was planned.  There would be no mistakes.  Little Bethlehem was the place that God had chosen for His Son.

The story of the Saviour on Earth would begin in the lowly town of Bethlehem, in a manger.  The amazing part is that all of this was foretold hundreds of years before.  The Bible is an amazing book, filled with glimpses of the Saviour on every page.

The 12 Verses of Christmas #2

Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.

Joshua 2:18

I know that verse really doesn’t have any direct connection to Christmas.  It isn’t a prophecy and it doesn’t mention the name of Jesus.  But I decided to include it because of the great symbolism that it contains.

The context of the verse is Israel’s coming destruction of Jericho.  They had spied out the land and had been hidden by Rahab the harlot.  In return for this dangerous service, they agreed to spare her and her family during their sack of the city.  The sign that she was to use was a scarlet thread hung from her window.

I love the symbolism of the scarlet thread.  There is a “scarlet thread” running all through the Bible and all through the history of mankind.  That “scarlet thread” is the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  He was prophesied in the Old Testament, He came in the New Testament and He has influence the course of history and the course of individual lives.

That scarlet thread is what saved Rahab and her house.  That scarlet thread is what saves us so many centuries later.  Jesus is truly the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

One other Christmas connection from this verse is found in Matthew 1:5, where this Rahab, saved by the presence of the scarlet thread, is mentioned as a part of that “scarlet thread.”  Rahab, this harlot from Jericho, came to be in the line of the King.  What a testament to God’s mercy and grace!  What a testament to His eternal plan!

The 12 Verses of Christmas #1

For the two weeks leading up to Christmas, I decided to post some of my favorite “Christmas verses.”  I probably should have called it the “12 passages of Christmas”, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.  I hope they are an encouragement to you this Christmas season.  Merry Christmas!

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:15

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had sinned.  Man had fallen from his state of innocence.  Satan had struck a blow against God and had brought sin to God’s creation.  It was a grave blow to humanity.  With sin came death and a curse on all of nature.  The old Devil must have been elated at this “victory.”  But the battle was over.  On the contrary, the victory belongs to the Lord.  And, in this verse, we get our first Christmas announcement.  We get a glimpse of what will eventually come from the “woman’s seed.”

“…it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

When Jesus came to earth as a man, there was indeed enmity between Him and Satan.  The Devil tempted Him in the wilderness.  The Devil attacked Him at every turn.  The Devil’s final attempt at the woman’s Seed’s destruction was at the cross of Calvary.  There he thought he had finally won.  He had finally finished what he started in the Garden.  He destroyed the first Adam.

But he could not destroy the Second Adam!  Jesus Christ went to cross, died a terrible death and was put in a tomb.  But the tomb could not hold Him.  He arose from the grave, having conquered the death that entered the human race with Adam.  What a Christmas announcement.  Listen to the words of Revelation 1:18 this Christmas season and rejoice in the victory that Christmas represents:

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.