Preparing For Christmas
Part 1

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, wait a minute Pastor, we just finished Thanksgiving and now you want us to be thinking about Christmas? It is not December yet! You are right, but Christmas will be here before we know it. If you look at a calendar you will notice that after today, there are only 3 more Sunday's before Christmas. If you have been going to the stores, you will notice that they have been getting ready for Christmas for more than 2 weeks. I think I remember some stores having Christmas items out before Halloween. It seems that the world is trying to rush the different holiday's. All they think about is the money. We can and should think about Christmas for what it truly means and the reason why we celebrate Christmas. We, as Christians, celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ. We need to remember the reason that Jesus came to earth. In the Bible it tells of Jesus' birth many, many years before it actually (really) happened.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given*: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace**.

*John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten (birth) Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Notice in Isaiah it tells about Jesus being born, then in John it shows that Jesus was born. We are children of God by adoption, if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior.

Galatians 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

**Eph. 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; In Isaiah tells of some of the names (titles) of Jesus, and in Ephesians says the same name (title) for Jesus

Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David***, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal (work) of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

***Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

In Isaiah tells what will happen in the future, and in Luke tells what happened in the present.

"father" David this is not talking about Jesus' father in the way we think of the meaning of the word father, but rather generation of David.

We read in the Old Testament about things that will happen in the future about Jesus, then in the New Testament we can read and find that those things came true.

 

Part 2

When comparing the engagement time between today and the time of Jesus, we need to look at the differences and what it meant to be engaged. In today's time people get engaged and sometimes live together and have sex before marriage. In the Bible times when people got engaged they did not live together and never had sex till after marriage. Another difference in Bible times the engagement period was taken very seriously, it had close to the same meaning as being married. In today's time people get engaged and break the engagement many times. People today do not seem to take engagement as something serious.

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused (engaged) to Joseph, before they came together (before they had sex), she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. was on this wise -- happened this way.

Notice here Mary is found to be pregnant before marriage and in those times that was a great sin.

Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily (private).

What is meant by the word husband here is not the same meaning as today. A man when betrothed was esteemed (honored as, thought of) from that time a husband. At this point they still have not said their wedding vows.

Joseph had every right to call off the wedding because of what he learned about Mary. Notice that he was thinking about doing that, but doing it privately. He still loved Mary and did not want to embarrass Mary.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived (become pregnant) in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Notice here that the angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream and told him (Joseph) two things. 1 -- go ahead and take Mary as his wife, and 2 -- how Mary got pregnant.

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The angel told Joseph what was going to happen and told Joseph what to name the baby.

Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden (told) him, and took unto him his wife:

Notice that Joseph obeyed the angel of the Lord. We need to obey what God tells us to do also.

Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

What this verse is talking about is the fact that even though Joseph took Mary as his wife, they did not have sex together until after the birth of Jesus.

 

Part 3
The Birth of John
Luke 1:5-15, 18-25, 36-37, 56-64

Now you may wonder what does the birth of John have to do with preparing for Christmas. The birth of John was important because he got the people ready to meet Jesus. John proclaimed (told) the people that Jesus would be coming. We need to remember that this was part of God's plan.

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

Luke 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances (laws) of the Lord blameless.

These two verses give us a little of the family history of John's parents and the fact that they obeyed God.

Luke 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. They are an older couple and they had no children.

Luke 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed (did) the priest's office before God in the order of his course (for one week),

Luke 1:9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. At that time the priest's had a certain way that they was supposed to do things in the temple and Zacharias was just following what he was supposed to do, because it was his turn to do those things.

Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. During the time that the priest was in the temple making the sacrifice, the people's responsibility was to pray outside the temple.

Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

Luke 1:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

Luke 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. Just like the announcement of the birth of Jesus, an angel appeared to Zacharias and told him that his wife would have a son, and told him what to name the son.

Luke 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. Explains how John would live and serve God.

Luke 1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. Notice that Zacharias did not believe the angel.

Luke 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. The angel introduces by name and the reason for appearing.

Luke 1: 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb (speak), and not able to speak (make any sound), until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. The angel told Zacharias what was going to happen because of his unbelief.

Luke 1: 21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried (stayed) so long in the temple.

Luke 1:22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived (thought) that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned (made sign) unto them, and remained speechless. When Zacharias came out he could not speak and was trying to tell the people by signs what happened.

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration (ministry) were accomplished (finished), he departed to his own house.

Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived (became pregnant), and hid herself five months, saying,

Luke 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach (shame) among men. It was shame for a woman to not have children back then.

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Luke 1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

Luke 1:58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

Luke 1:60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

Luke 1:61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred (family) that is called by this name.

Luke 1:62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

Luke 1:63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled (wonder) all.

Luke 1:64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. Notice after Zacharias obeyed God, he was able to speak again. It is very important for us to obey God fully.

 

Part 4
Angels

Maybe you are wondering how the angels are important to the Christmas story. If you stop and think about it, God sent an angel to announce the birth of Jesus and also the birth of John.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

Notice that Joseph obeyed the angel of the Lord. When God speaks to us today, He can speak to us in many different ways, we need to obey Him. God wants us to fully obey Him and serve Him.

Matthew 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Matthew 2:14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: Again the angel appears to Joseph in a dream and Joseph obeys without question.

Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

Luke 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

This is the first time that the angel gives his name. Remember the angel is talking to Zacharias (John's father)

Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Notice here it is the same angel that spoke to Zacharias, that is speaking to Mary.

Luke 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

 

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