Week twelve – blue plate special

Monday

All of our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life! John 3:16

“Man’s Problem – God’s Solution”

The two most pivotal events in the history of mankind are Christmas and Easter.  Christmas celebrates the BIRTH OF THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD and Easter celebrates the RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST.  These events mean “everything” to humanity.  Without Christ, life would be worthless.  We would be dead in our sins and separated from our Creator, God, forever.  With the fall, we lost the liberty not to sin.  Nothing we do apart from Christ bridges the gap between man and God.

That is why it is imperative to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  Unfortunately, it won’t just happen without your attention.  Here are the traps: Christmas is very commercial.  Secondly, the “busyness” of this time of year often steals our attention from the important things.

You must pause for reflection.  Don’t let Christmas just be family, eating, gifts, and friends.  These things are not bad; but they are only part of the bigger picture.  Take time prior to the celebration of this glorious day to prepare.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5:3).  These are Christ’s words.  He’s saying blessed is the person who realizes that he has fallen short (Romans 3:23) and that all his righteous acts are nothing (Isaiah 64:6).  The problem of humanity is separation from God.  God is holy – we are not.  The chasm is great.  But God…He loved us while we were dead in our sins (Romans 5:8).  The cornerstone of His plan is Jesus: who stood in our place and was sacrificed for our sin, so that we may live and be reconciled with God.

* Consider the holiness of God and the wonder of His love.


Tuesday

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

“Fulfilled Prophecies”

At the fall of man, God set in motion His plan for mankind.  The amazing thing is that this HOLY GOD loves sinners (that’s us) and gave His most precious Son (Jesus) to die in our place.  AMAZING LOVE.

Did you know that all the way back in Genesis that Christ is foretold?  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15).  God is addressing Satan.  He tells him that he will be crushed and it will ultimately happen by the hand of Jesus.

Then as the Old Testament unfolds, God chooses Abraham and he ultimately is the Father of Israel.  God clearly delineates standards for His people.  But they fall short.  They choose to be apart from God.  God’s solution is Jesus.  In Isaiah 7:14, we clearly understand that He will be born of a virgin.  In Micah 5:2, we read that He will be born in Bethlehem.  The Old Testament is full of prophecies about Messiah.  They were all fulfilled in one person: Jesus Christ.

When the angel, Gabriel, came to Mary he said, “ ‘You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.’  ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’  The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you…so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:31, 34-35).

The odds of one person, Jesus, randomly fulfilling all the Messianic prophecies are beyond comprehension.  It wasn’t random luck.  Jesus fulfilled these prophecies to the letter because HE IS THE SON OF GOD!

*Consider that Jesus fulfilled all the Messianic prophecies to the letter.


Wednesday

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary. Luke 1:26-27

“Ordinary People – Extraordinary Character”

God used “ordinary people” with extraordinary spiritual qualities to fulfill His plan for mankind.  Jesus’ earthly parents were “regular folks.”  Joseph was a carpenter and Mary was a teenage maiden.  Imagine this: The mother of the INCARNATE GOD was a young mother without position in 1st century Palestine.  His earthly father, who was responsible for training Jesus into manhood, was a simple carpenter.

These people were just normal people with normal intellect.  But, they must have had their hands full!  Should Joseph have called Jesus “Junior” or “Mighty God?”  And speaking of Mary, Max Lucado wonders, “She didn’t know whether to give Jesus milk or give Him praise, so she gave Him both, since as near as she could figure, he was hungry and holy.”

What qualified these two people in God’s eyes to fulfill the role of Jesus’ parents?  It wasn’t power.  It wasn’t wealth.  It wasn’t position.  It wasn’t superior intellect.  They didn’t earn it in any tangible way.  What was it, then?  Mary was qualified by her utter devotion and dedication to the things of God.  When the angel, Gabriel, visited Mary and told her that she would conceive of the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Incarnate God, she believed the truth: “Nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).  Not only that, but she was committed to it: “I am the Lord’s servant…may it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38).

Joseph was qualified by his faith.  Joseph was engaged to the Virgin Mary.  When she became pregnant, the angel of the Lord told him that the child was conceived of the Holy Spirit.  He believed and “he did what the angel of the Lord commanded.”  (Matthew 1:24).

These people actually weren’t ordinary.  They had extraordinary qualities that qualified them for their role.

*Consider the qualities God desires in us.


Thursday

But He made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8-9

“Jesus: A Servant to All Mankind”

You’ve heard people say, “Do as I say, not as I do!”  That’s not what Jesus said.  Rather, He said, “Be holy as I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16).  Jesus lived a life that could be modeled completely.  Every aspect of His life should be emulated.  According to the author of the Book of Hebrews, one of the reasons that Jesus became a man was so that He could identify with us.  He became our merciful and faithful high priest (Hebrews 2:17) by living a human life, yet without sin.

The Incarnate God could have been born into earthly royalty, but He chose the common things.  He came as a servant: “…the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28).  He was always doing things for others.  The very reason for his life as a man was the “cross” and His sacrifice for us.  He came to serve, not to be served.  Consider Max Lucado’s description of the Incarnation of Christ: “stepping from the throne, He removed His robe of light and wrapped Himself in skin: pigmented human skin.  The light of the universe entered a dark, wet womb.  He, whom the angels worship, nestled Himself in the placenta of a peasant.  He was bathed into the cold night, then slept on cow’s hay.”

Look at what He gave up.  He left heaven for a ministry on earth that included pain, suffering, marked criticism and ultimately His physical death.  Similarly, He wants us to be servants.  We are to “die to self.”  We are to make His plan for us our plan.  Are you not sure what to do or how to act?  BE A SERVANT.  Give up your rights to the Master Servant – Jesus Christ.

*Consider how we can serve others using Jesus as our example.


Friday

This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:11

“Christmas: It’s Hope!”

Our week of preparation is nearly complete.  Let’s look at how other people have described this blessed day.  Charles Swindoll, in The Finishing Touch, summarizes Christmas this way: “Emmanuel – God with us.  He who resided in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world.  He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins.  He didn’t come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety.”

Max Lucado summarizes the love of God culminating in Christmas in this way: “Can anything make me stop loving you?,”  God asks.  “Watch me speak your language, sleep on your earth, and feel your hurts…you wonder how long my love will last?  Find your answer on a splintered cross on a craggy hill.  That’s me you see up there, your Maker, your God, nail-stabbed and bleeding  — covered in spit and sin soaked.  That’s your sin I’m feeling.  That’s your death I’m dying…That’s how much I love you.”

The birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the coming Messiah.  Jesus’ birth and entire life fulfilled the prophecies completely: “Knowing that all was now completed, and so that the scriptures would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’” (John 19:28).

Remember, Jesus promised to come back for His church.  It will be the culmination of God’s plan for mankind.  Don’t let this Christmas pass us by without sharing the wonder of Christmas with our family and friends.

Jesus is God’s gift of eternal life.  It’s a matter of humbly confessing our sins and accepting the gift.  Oswald Chambers says, “Jesus was born into the world, not of it.  He did not emerge out of history, He came into history from the outside.  He is a being for whom the human race can take no credit at all.  God Incarnate coming in human flesh from outside it.”  OUR LORD’S BIRTH WAS AN ADVENT – THE APPEARANCE OF GOD IN HUMAN FORM. 

# If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world. C.S. Lewis