Sunday, December 24, 2006


John 1:14 1 Tim 3:16 God was manifest in the flesh,

As she came out of church one Sunday, a young lady said to me, “I need to talk with you, Pastor. I’m confused about the real meaning of Christmas.” I can see how that could happen to anyone, regardless of their age. It’s possible to become so intrigued with the tinsel and glitter that we miss the starlight and straw. One writer in the local rag, The Post, at this time last year summed up the confusion of many as he described his distress at seeing ‘He is the reason for the season”, on the bike shop on the corner of Darby and King streets last Christmas time. He exclaimed, “Imagine that! They’re even trying to drag religion into Christmas now!”
Don’t misunderstand me. I like everything about Christmas. I like Christmas trees. I like Christmas lights. I like Christmas cards. I like Christmas gifts. I even like Santa Claus. And, if that were all there was to it, it would be worth all we put into it because, for at least a little while at Christmas time, all the world is a better place. But, the real meaning of Christmas is not to be found in any of those things. To discover the real reason for the season we need to look again at the Christmas story as recorded in scripture.
So, Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation (i.e., God becoming flesh). It commemorates the time when God invaded this small planet; when omnipotence was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. It is the celebration of the fact that God has come to live among us, to reveal himself to us, to identify with us, and to give himself for us. It commemorates a time when God became flesh and dwelt among us in order to be our savior. It is clear, then, that the real meaning of Christmas centers in Jesus Christ. If there had been no Christ there would be no Christmas. The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. KJV

The Word Became Flesh THERE IS REVELATION!
The first reason for the incarnation was revelation. To know God has been the desire of people through the ages. There has never been a time, from prehistoric man until the present, when people did not want to know God. A Roman historian wrote that he could find in his time cities without a stadium and cities without a theater, but he could not find cities without a temple. There is an inner longing in the heart of each person to know God.
But, how can we know one who is indescribable and incomprehensible? We can look up into the heavens and see some revelation of God. We can see design and purpose and power. But we cannot know God fully. There are great revelations of God in the Old Testament, but they are all partial. If you want the surest and purest revelation of God you must find him in Jesus Christ.
The disciples once said to Jesus, “Show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” Jesus responded, “Have I been so long with you and you have not known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”
If you should ask, “What is God like?” I would reply, “He is like Jesus Christ.” If you should then ask, “How much like Jesus Christ?” I would reply, “Exactly like Jesus Christ.”
Or as Paul put it, “In him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells.”
Some suggest we can see God in all religions. Theologian Karl Barth stood before students and faculty at Princeton in 1963 during his Princeton Lectures. A student asked, “Sir, don’t you think God has revealed himself in other religions and not only Christianity?” Barth stunned many who were present when he thundered, “No, God has not revealed himself in any religion, including Christianity. He has revealed himself in his son.”
The essence of Christianity is this: Jesus Christ is God. He is not just a part of God, or just sent by God, or just related to God. He was and is God.
Plato said that God is so vast that he is indescribable. The ancient Greeks thought that God was incomprehensible. So what did God do? He came down so we could comprehend him.
As John put it, “God became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Clarence Macartney wrote “The Moravians were founded by Count Zinzendorf, who was converted in an art gallery in Dusseldorf by contemplating a painting of Christ on the cross, which had the inscription, "I did this for thee. What hast thou done for me?"
This painting was done by an artist three hundred years before. When he had finished his first sketch of the face of the Redeemer, this artist called in his landlady's little daughter and asked her who she thought it was. The girl looked at it and said, "It is a good man." The painter knew that he had failed. He destroyed the first sketch, and after pray­ing for greater skill he finished a second. Again he called the little girl in and 1 asked her to tell him whom she thought ' the face represented. This time the girl said she thought it looked like a great sufferer. Again the painter knew that he had failed, and again he destroyed the •sketch he had made. After meditation and prayer, a third sketch was made. When it was finished, he called the girl in a third time and asked her who it was. Looking at the portrait, the girl knelt down and exclaimed, "It is the Lord!"
That alone makes the coming of Christ meaningful to the world—not that a good man came, not that a wise teacher came, not that a great sufferer came, but that God came—Immanuel, God with us.
One hears quoted very often, and very thoughtlessly, Richard Watson Gilder's lines:
If Jesus Christ is a man,— And only man,—I say That of all mankind I cleave to him, And to him will I cleave alway. If Jesus Christ is a god,— And the only God,—I swear 1 will follow Him through heaven and hell, The earth, the sea, and the air!
The last part is sense and reason; the first part is nonsense. If Jesus Christ be man, and only a man, there is nothing in him worth following and worth cleaving to. The poet sings as if it made little dif­ference which way the vote fell—man, or Son of God. But it does make a differ­ence—an immeasurable difference.

The second reason for the incarnation was identification. God came not only to reveal himself to us but to identify himself with us. Someone has said, “To walk in another man’s shoes you must first take off your own shoes.” That’s what the Lord did in the incarnation. He took off his divinity in order to put on our humanity. In order to identify with us, the great God of heaven stripped himself of his deity and became one of us. That’s the reason for the season. The incarnation was for the purpose of identification.
One of the most famous tsars of Russia was “Peter the Great.” When he came to power Russia was an isolated and backward land. His father, Tsar Alexis, like the rulers before him, had been far removed and inaccessible to his subjects. The tsars were all august figures, enclosed in an aura of semi-divinity. But Peter was not like that. He freely moved among his people and identified himself with them. Peter had an inquiring mind and frequently associated with the foreign merchants who lived in his country. He soon became fascinated with western civilization and desired to modernize his country.
On one occasion he sent a “great embassy” of more than 250 of Russia’s young men, from the noblest of families, to western Europe for more than eighteen months to study seamanship, navigation, and ship-building. They would go to learn about western civilization and bring ideas back to re-mold the country along western lines and open the country to Europe. They would modernize Russia and cause it to emerge with new influence in the world.
The most remarkable thing about all this is that the tsar himself traveled with the great embassy, incognito. He traveled as a mere member of the ambassador’s staff to see and learn for himself.
In a sense, that’s what Jesus Christ did. He traveled from heaven to earth incognito. He was born in a manger in Bethlehem. He grew up in a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth. He died on a cross in Jerusalem. And, he did it, not only to reveal God to us, but to identify himself with us.
He was born in a stable, not in a mansion, that he might identify with the homeless of our world.
He was born in Bethlehem, the house of bread, and not in Athens, that he might identify with the hungry masses. He grew up in the home of a carpenter, rather than the home of a Caesar, that he might identify with the working class. He was born a Jew and not a Greek, that he might identify with the oppressed, the despised, and the rejected of all times. And, he died on a cross and not in a hospital to share the suffering of the world. He was born and reared at the crossroads of the world that touches Africa, Asia, and Europe, because he belongs to the whole world.
Have you ever noticed that there were never any real pictures of Jesus? Many pictures exist from after the third century, and they all display Jesus in the culture of the are in which they were painted..
Jesus’ favorite term for himself was the “Son of Man.” It is used over 97 times in the gospels. He called himself the “Son of Man” rather than the “Son of God” because he really was the representative man, the man in whom humanity finds its perfect expression, its perfect example, its consummation, and its peak. As F. W. Robertson wrote, “There was in Jesus no national peculiarity or individual idiosyncrasy. He was not the son of a Jew, or the son of a carpenter; nor the offspring of the modes of living and thinking of that particular century. He was the son of man.”
And what does all of this mean to you and me? The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:17-18).
And again the writer of Hebrews writes, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
At the heart of the Universe there is a heart!
WE Sangster wrote “Stars are lovely to look at—but they can't love. Flowers are beautiful—but they have no heart. It says in the florist's window: 'Bouquets and Wreaths.' Either! The flowers don't mind. They will come to the wedding or the funeral. It is all the same to them. They are beautiful, but they are not personal. The mountains are majestic, but there is no comfort in their cold hearts.
Dr Stanley Jones has told a story of a little boy who stood before a picture of his absent father, and . . . said wistfully, “I wish Father would step out of the picture'. That little boy expressed, in his own way, the deepest hope of the deepest souls who lived before Christ. They believed in God! Socrates and Plato did—the finest of the Greeks. The ancient Eastern sages did:... with overpowering intensity the Hebrew prophets did: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the rest of them ... the most daring of them rose even to believe that the great Creator of the universe might be called a Father. ... In their heart, this longing, I fancy, could easily have taken shape: I wish the Father would step out of the picture'. ...
Oh for a warm heart in the Universe.... Listen! Listen! He stepped out of the picture. He stepped out at Bethlehem. Here is the glorious truth of it: 'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. ... No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.' At the heart of the Universe there Is A Heart!

And We Beheld His Glory As Of The Only begotten Of The Father… THERE IS ADORATION!!


Napoleon “ I know men, and Jesus Christ is more than a man”
Glory Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
18 :No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Only begotten God.
1 Cor 2: 7 On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a • mystery, which God predestined before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age knew it, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
2 Cor 4:4 4 Regarding them: the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness”—He has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
Robert Browning in “Death in The Desert” I say, the acknowledgment of God in Christ "Accepted by thy reason, solves for thee "All questions in the earth and out of it,

Angels Worship Luke 2:9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 today a Savior, who is • Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” 13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors![

Down from His glory, Heaven's own Lamb; Born as a baby, I AM THAT I AM;
Not in a palace, not as a king; But in a manger, this small little thing,
Wrapped all in swaddling clothes- God' precious Son Come to give life to the world-everyone.
Is it no wonder the angel choirs sang, Or shepherds left fields for the place where He lay?
Wise men, they traveled-just following the star And gave gifts to God, Who had come from afar. "Bill Cathy Spain"

Full Of Grace And Truth SALVATION!!
He came not only to reveal himself to us and identify himself with us. He also came to give his life for us. The son of God became the son of man that we who are the sons of men might become the sons of God. Paul expressed the truth in these words, “He was made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).
GRACE Provides Pardon
These two essential features are ascribed to God in the Old Testament and characterized the Son of God when He changed the form of His preexistence and took upon Himself frail flesh to die. Christ came from the Father, who was "abundant in grace and truth" (Exod. 34:6), "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Some expositors translate the passage, "Glory full of grace and truth." Of this summing up of the character of the divine revelation, Westcott says, Grace corresponds with the idea of the revelation of God as Love (I John 4:8-16) by Him who is the Life: Truth with that of the revelation of God as Light (I John 1:5) by Him who is Himself Light.
What is grace? Godet describes it as "the divine love investing the character with affableness towards friends, with condescension towards inferiors, with compassion towards the wretched, with pardon towards the guilty; God consenting to give Himself."
Grace taught my wandering feet To tread the heavenly road;
And new supplies each hour I meet While pressing on to God.
Grace all the works shall crown Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone And well deserves the praise.
Taxes in Graux and Domremy cancelled for 400 years from 1429 “cancelled on Account of the maiden”
Joan of Arc.
He and I in that great glory , one deep joy shall Share, Mine to be forever with Him, His that I am there
TRUTH Provides Promises
Objective fulfillments of O.T. Prophecies. John 3:16. Acts 10: 42 He commanded us to preach to the people, and to solemnly testify that He is the One appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.”
Subjective Offers of NT Promises. John 3:16 john 6: 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
The bottom line? Crown Him with many crowns,
All hail the power of Jesus name let angels prostrate fall, Bring forth the rouyal diadem and crown Him Lord of all.Have you crowned Him Lord of all?

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