Ephesians 5:2, "Live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God."
Can you think of the best story you've ever heard? The story that had you hanging on every word drawing you in until the end. There may have been suspense, danger, and those heart tugging moments. Now, for me, a story isn't complete unless there's a happy ending. What kind of ending do you prefer?
Almost all of us have grown up hearing the Christmas story in some form and after a while, have you felt like the wonder is lost in the telling of it? Maybe it's the feeling you get after watching Christmas classics like; White Christmas, or Miracle on 34th Street, for the 60th time. They’re classics and are still good, but they've become more tradition, than enjoyment.
Today, let's look at the Christmas story in a new way and find some hidden lessons we may never have thought of before.
1. God offers forgiveness to all- Ephesians 1:7, “In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace.”
The main message woven into the Christmas story is, ‘Jesus came to reconcile God and sinners.’ This begins with forgiveness.
Isaiah 11:1-2 tells us that out of Jesse’s branch, (family tree), his roots will bear fruit. We know from Jesse’s lineage David came and it was through this bloodline God chose to send Jesus. Look at David's history, did he always do things we'd be proud of? No, he betrayed and killed a great friend all so he could commit adultery. Whether we're proud of our family history, we're stuck with them, and we don't get to choose our lineage, but God does.
God chose David's lineage to bring His Son into the world. Despite the bad David did, God gave abundant mercy because He saw the good in David. Jesus, our Messiah, descended from a royal bloodline even though David showed human weakness, because God offers forgiveness and He sent Jesus to save His people from their sins- Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23. No matter who we are or what we've done, God forgives when we seek forgiveness.
2. Jesus will be our Shepherd- Hebrews 13:20-21, “I pray that the God of peace will give you every good thing you need so you can do what he wants. God raised from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, because of the blood of his death. His blood began the eternal agreement that God made with his people. I pray that God will do in us what pleases him, through Jesus Christ, and to him be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Luke recounts after Jesus was born the angels chose to tell the good news to the shepherds. We know the shepherds were part of the lowest class and didn't spend time with the rich at social events so why did God choose them first? God wanted His message to be clear, this hope of a Savior was for all people rich and poor alike. God also was fulfilling Ezekiel 34:15, “I will feed my flock and lead them to rest, says the Lord God.” Jesus came to give peace and to lead us.
3. God can perform miracles- Jeremiah 32:27, “I am the Lord, the God of every person on the earth. Nothing is impossible for me.”
We know this part of the story well. Mary, a virgin, became pregnant in holiness. Not only Mary, but her cousin Elizabeth also was pregnant in her old age, 88 years old in fact. God honored their faithfulness showing that nothing is impossible with God. God has a plan and, in His time, always puts things in motion to accomplish His plan. Not because He feels the need for control but because He wants us all to be saved.
4. God provides in His way- Philippians 4:19, “My God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need.”
As the story continues, we read that Jesus was born in a stable because Mary and Joseph had to travel for the census. Like most expectant mothers, I am sure Mary fretted about this. Having to leave her home and travel was enough to worry about but what would happen if she went into labor? Would she have to deliver on the trail? Would she make it to a midwife, where would they stay? Then they couldn't find a room once in town, oh the worry she must have felt. Yet God chose His way and, in His time, to provide the place He wanted His Son to be born.
Do we worry and fret when we don't see the clear path or answers? God is showing us to trust Him, He said He would always provide, and He does, His way. Trust that His way is the best way even when we may never see it.
5. God grants peace when we wait on Him- Psalm 46:10, “God says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be praised in all the nations; I will be praised throughout the earth.”
Luke 2:19 tells us that after all the events of having a baby, shepherds sharing the good news, and human emotions and drained Mary sat silent allowing God's words to fill her heart. “Blessed are you among women”, “Son of God”, “Nothing is impossible with God.” In the silence she could see God's plan fulfilled. This happened in her quiet moments when her mind and body could rest and catch up.
Taking these quiet still moments in life to reflect allows the Holy Spirit to speak to us. We can see all the wonders of our God, God of the possible. And in these moments God shares with us His plan for our lives and the joys we have before us when we choose to follow Him.
6. God is in control of leadership and world events- Psalm 125:2, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, the Lord surrounds his people now and forever.”
Our story takes us to the edge of our seats as Matthew recounts the jealous actions of King Herod. When the wise men inquire about the new king, Herod asks them to tell him where he was so he too could worship him. We all know Herod wanted to kill Jesus as soon as he found Him and the wise men through God also knew Herod’s intent. So, our God who created the sun, moon and stars led the wise men to Jesus to honor Him. The twist, God's hand over rules and He had a plan. In His sovereignty He led the wise men to Jesus and then to their homes away from King Herod and protected them and Jesus.
Our world may feel the same right now. A chaotic mess where leaders are only hurting us rather than helping us. It's hard living in this perplexing world unsure what the future on earth holds, but God is still in control, and peace lies in resting in the Prince of Peace knowing God is protecting us as He did in the Christmas story.
7. God’s peace will fill the Earth.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. Isaiah 9:6–7
God has given us the ultimate promise. Through Jesus—and through us—God will fill the Earth with a peace that will not end. Remember, no matter what is going on in the world today, you can rest in the truth that God’s peace will win out.
Our story does have a happy ending. Christmas is a joyous time for celebrating and when we look deeper into the reason for the season, we see God's redemptive story begin for our sinful race. A story that brings forgiveness and can lead us through life. God used each character in the story to share a deeper message but if we get too caught up in the “holiday”, we will miss them.
We may not be able to explain it all, but we can have peace knowing that the One who guided the star will guide us, no matter our circumstances, to inner peace and a glorious ending.
The Bible is filled with promises on how God can change your life when you study His Word—“Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it … then you will make your way prosperous” (Joshua 1:8, ESV). It’s never too late to start regularly reading Scripture. The Bible is no ordinary book. The words within its pages are like medicine to your soul. It has the power to change your life because there is life in the Word! (See Hebrews 4:12.) So no matter where you are in your walk with God, I want to encourage you to start spending time in His Word today and be determined to stick with it! You’ll find that every time you study the Bible and pay attention to what you’re reading, you’re learning something. Let's continue our study with Hebrews chapter 8
Study 13, Hebrews 8- https://www.docdroid.net/Ve3AHV7/study-13-docx
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