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Monday, December 25, 2006

When You Think of Christmas

When you think of Christmas, do you think of:

1) Eternity - "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God" - Philippians 2:5,6

This was not a last minute idea that God had while rocking in His chair. No, God had His mind on us from eternity past and us on His mind. And as Romans reminds us, while we were His enemies, while we were separated from Him, and while we were without strength, God came to us and showed us His great love. Someone has written a song in recent years that says something to the effect that while He was on the cross, we were on His mind. But the truth of the matter is that before there was a cross, yes, even before there was an earth, we were on His mind.

When you think of Christmas, do you think of:

2) Emmanuel (God with us) - "But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" - Philippians 2:7

Think of it - God Himself put on the soiled robes of humanity and came to our world so that one day we could go to His! Emmanuel = "God with us". The title applied to the Messiah, born of the virgin (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14) because Jesus was God united with man, and showed that God was dwelling with man.

That story of the judge and newspaper editor who didn't get along too well applies here. One day, the judge's best friend appeared before him in court. The editor thought this was his golden opportunity to discredit the judge. He thought, "If he is too soft on his friend, my headline will read 'Who needs a judge that is soft on his friends'?" The editor thought as well that if he was too hard on his friend, the headline would read: 'Who needs a judge that shows no sympathy to even his friends'?"

The trial progressed - the verdict was in. The judge found his friend guilty and then levied the harshest punishment he could under the law. The editor was up and off to his office to begin writing his story.

But what he failed to observe was that the judge, after pronouncing sentence, stood, took off his regal robes and came around the front of the bench and paid the fine for his friend.

This is Christmas! This is God taking off His royal robes and coming down in front of the bench which has declared that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23) and He has paid the penalty imposed on our sin.

When you think of Christmas, do you think of:

3) Easter - "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." - Philippians 2:8

Without an Easter, the Christmas story would be just a nice warm fuzzy. But Easter brings purpose, fulfillment and finality to the nativity story. Easter reminds us that the little babe in the manger grew into manhood and took on the establishment and society of His day. Easter reminds us that in the midst of misunderstanding and persecution and even temptation, nothing could influence Christ away from the purpose for which He had come. Easter reminds us too, that He fulfilled His divine purpose and mission, which was His from eternity past - to carry the sins of mankind to the cross. Easter reminds us that in His death, there was finality in the age long war against sin. His cry of "It is finished!" from the cross, declares task completed, mission accomplished. But most importantly Easter reminds us that God the Father accepted on our behalf His only begotten Son as our Redeemer. The resurrection is the proof of this acceptance. And "because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19)

When you think of Christmas, do you think of:

4) Exaltation - "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:9-11

This reminds us of the choice that we have now, and also that it will not be a choice forever. The choice we have now is to worship Christ as Saviour and Lord freely and willingly. To make a conscious choice to repent and receive Him as our Redeemer, and then to join in the exaltation, praising Him for all He has done for us. How precious are these times of rejoicing as we exalt the name of Jesus!

But that choice will not always be ours to make. As the verses above remind us, the time is coming when every knee in every sphere will bow and worship the Christ, this babe who came in a manger, but then Who will be coming as a righteous King! As Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary on Philippians, entitled "Be Joyful", 'One day all will bow before Him and confess that He is Lord. Of course, it is possible for people to bow and confess today, and receive His gift of salvation (Rom. 10:9-10). To bow before Him now means salvation; to bow before Him at the judgment means condemnation.'

The choice is yours! But the result of your choice has already been settled because of the Babe who came at Christmas. So the only choice is will you bow now or bow later?

So as you think of Christmas this year, might I invite you to get beyond simply looking at the cradle? Move to Calvary! Then to the grave! Then to glory! Join in on the exaltation!
Eternity -> Emmanuel -> Easter -> Exaltation.

May you have a very blessed Christmas.

(Adapted by an article written by Eric McGrath.)

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