Scripture: Luke 2:8- 14, Psalm 2
Shortly after the witches put away their brooms, the pumpkins crumbled up and became smashed under the feet of trick-or-treaters, all the Halloween candy was snuck into various classrooms and eaten on the low or as in between snacks before lunch, after all the ghost and gobbling costumes are put away until next year; riding on the cusp of Halloween comes Thanksgiving.
The problem is that we barely get a chance to call our loved ones and extend the invitation for them to join us for this great turkey feast because, the big super stores like Walmart, Target, Amazon, Macy's , Best Buy, Toys R Us etc get the consumers all geek and raved up about holiday shopping and the tremendous deals that will be available to them on Black Friday and Cyber Monday!
This great holiday that was instituted and celebrated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans in reference and reverence to the graciousness of God, our Creator, was at its core, the sentiment of grateful and thankful hearts. They were thankful for the bounty of food, health, and strength that they received, after having come through many troubled times and harsh weather conditions.
The Bible says: " In everything give thanks; for it is the will of God concerning you, "1Thessolonians 5:7" . However, we have been draw away from the fact that we have a gracious God that gave us the best that He had, even when we were the worse that we've ever been towards Him and those He came to seek and to save!
Someone said that "Only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have!" We are obsessed as a nation of people who want it " bigger, brighter, want to do it longer, go farther, be better, go higher, feel better, look better, and the list goes on and on and on!!
Those who are spiritual can already discern that time is moving at a rapid pace! No sooner has this year, 2013 come in and it's almost ready to go out of here! But lets face it, the economic powers that be don't help things either. Because instead of allowing its employees to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families, most of the retail outlets were open Thanksgiving Day and evening. Where is the sanctity for God and family? It's been replace with the desire to have a 50 foot TV in the living room or the newest electronic game or piece of equipment.
The kids hadn't even gotten a chance to make a wish on the turkey wishbone, before the the scent and aroma pumpkin and sweet potato pie left the kitchen and atmosphere of many homes, After dinner people belched washed their hands, grabbed their coats, hats and scarves and headed out the door to stand in ridiculously long lines, hoping to snatch up their favorite item on their Christmas list. Oh, that there were such lines of people waiting to get into houses of worship across this land! Think how happy and proud our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would be of His children.
1. Nevertheless, let's check out this scene: Everywhere you go you can see it, hear it, smell it, and feel it. You can see the bright colorful lights draped around trees, mantles, doors, awnings, even bushes. You can smell the scent of freshly cut cedars, firs, spruces, and pines. You can hear the jingling of Salvation Army bells, the singing of carols, and the ringing of cash registers.
2. What is happening? People are getting ready for Christmas. They are camped outside of Walmart, K-Mart, and Best Buy waiting on Thanksgiving evening and for the doors to open early on Black Friday. people are hoping to get a jump start on their holiday shopping. Yet, what is a happy time, I think, is also a sad time for the" Church," because even though people are getting ready for Christmas, they are not getting ready for Christ.
3. To illustrate this, listen to this parody of the Christmas story found in the gospel of Luke 2:8-14) a parody is something written that imitates, makes fun, mocks or trivializes an original work or story; as in this case.
And there were in the same country, children keeping watch over their stockings by the fireplace. And, lo! Santa Claus came upon them; and they were sore afraid. And Santa said unto them: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people who can afford them. For unto you will be given great feasts of turkey, dressing, and cake; and many presents; and this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the presents, wrapped in bright paper, lying beneath a tree adorned with tinsel, colored balls and lights. And suddenly, there will be with you a multitude of relatives and friends, praising you and saying, 'Thank you so much, it was just what I wanted.' And it shall come to pass as the friends and relatives have gone away into their own homes, the parents shall say to one another, 'Darn it! What a mess to clean up! I'm tired, let's go to bed and pick it up tomorrow. Thank goodness, Christmas only comes once a year!' And they go with haste to their cold bed and find their desired rest."
Now I know that sounded ridiculous, but yet again, it is a reflection of what has take place in our society as far as celebrating Christmas. It answers the the primal question: Whose Life is it Anyways?
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. Can someone say,Joseph was getting ready for Christmas!" He had to make sure his entire family would be included in the count, he had to register, Mary, the baby and himself.
Obviously this was an important event in the Roman Empire. Sometimes these required activities take place at a difficult or inopportune time. Voting takes place on a Tuesday. Most people work on Tuesday. Sometimes your voting district changes and people aren't aware of it, so they must spend time looking for their new place to vote. New rules and regulations are introduced into the occasion, making it difficult to meet the qualifications r voting. Longer lines, bad attitudes, handicap conditions often discourage people , so they give up and return home failing to exercise their God given right to vote.
But after being turned away several times because of a lack of vacancies in town. One kind gentlemen told Joseph that he could make his lodging In a manger if he didn't mind sharing it with some animals that were bedded there also.
Sometimes, in our search to find Jesus, it will take us int uncomfortable places and strange new territories. The people will seem strange and behave hostile towards you. The climate will bring on hazardous conditions, and the territory, its terrain and the road will be rough and often pose danger. Wild beast are liable to jump out and attack you at any moment on your journey, but you have to keep moving forward and keep a clear head. You must remember, you are getting ready for Jesus. And nobody told you that the road would e easy ! So I don't believe, He brought me this far to leave me!!
4. For most people these two scenarios, the one found in Luke 2;8-14, pretty much summarizes the beginning and ending of Christmas. It all depends upon whose point of view the story is told from. Given the first parody / imitation of what getting ready for Christ means, I do not know of a more appropriate passage in all of the Bible than Psalm 2:1-12 Because we see here at one and the same time, a hate of the world for God, and in the second Biblical rendition of Luke 2:8-14,we see the hope for the world from God. Let's take a look at what
(Psalms 2:1-12) from the Message Translation: "Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots, peoples? Earth-leaders push for position, Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks, The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers: “Let’s get free of God! Cast loose from Messiah!” Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing. At first he’s amused at their presumption; Then he gets good and angry. Furiously, he shuts them up: “Don’t you know there’s a King in Zion? A coronation banquet Is spread for him on the holy summit.”
Let me tell you what God said next. He said, “You’re my son, And today is your birthday. What do you want? Name it: Nations as a present? continents as a prize? You can command them all to dance for you, Or throw them out with tomorrow’s trash.” So, rebel-kings, use your heads; Upstart-judges, learn your lesson: Worship God in adoring embrace, Celebrate in trembling awe. Kiss Messiah! Your very lives are in danger, you know; His anger is about to explode, But if you make a run for God—you won’t regret it! (Psalm 2:1-12 MSG)
5. In vv. 1-3 we see a clear picture of this world and its attitude toward God today, and you can sum it all up in one word--rebellion. First, there is planned rebellion. "Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?" (v.1) The word rage literally means to "be assembled in a mob." The word plot is the same word used for meditate in Psalm 1. So here is a world pictured as one mob united in one cause: thinking up ways they can get rid of God. Think about it; the crowds or mobs that were out there after Thanksgiving did not have Jesus on their minds.
6. In fact when the cashier was done giving you back our change, they didn't say, " Merry Christmas, thy said, " Happy holiday." retailers don't want anything to o with Jesus! its the almighty dollar that they are concerned with. Public schools can no longer sing Christmas carols if they mention Jesus. Planned Parenthood can hand out condoms, but Gideons can no longer hand out Bibles. City Halls no longer can post The Ten Commandments in a hallway. And some churches cannot display their Nativity Scenes outside on their lawns. I read recently in USA Today that postal workers can no longer say "Merry Christmas. They can only say " Happy Holidays" or Season's Greetings!"" Many write the word Christmas Xmas, because there is a diabolical plan to X out or get rid of the Christ in Christmas!!!
The enemies of God can rebel, rant, and rage. They can deny His existence, erase Him from their currency take His name out of the Pledge of Alleigance, or whatever else they try to prove or disprove concerning God! The truth is, God has given His Son all power. And the prince and princes of this world will be judged. The song says," Get right with God and do it now. " Everybody talkin bout heaven ain't going there. Are you getting ready for Jesus' return? Or are you merely dressing up, rehearsing, running around ragged, collecting a bunch of material things at Christmas time that have no eternal value to or in them.
In all of your wrappings, gifts, cards and well wishes, make sure you are wrapped up in the greatest gift that God sent to save and deliver you. he sent Jesus! He is a free gift. It don't cost nothing to receive Him, but yet it cost Him everything to receive you.
I'm so glad I can say like Earnest Pugh says it in his song."I'm wrapped up hum, tied up hum, tangled up; in Jesus, He's all I need." so in all your getting during this Advent season, "Don't Forget To Get Jesus!"
And: "Don't Forget To Say Your Prayers."
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