Posts Tagged 'Christmas'

Christmas: What Did You Get?

Christmas: What Did You Get? Sermon Audio Here

Hebrews 2:10-18

As children head back to school, they’ll ask one another “what did you get for Christmas” as a way of reconnecting with one another. This also serves to verify their own experience: did **I** have a good Christmas?

What role does the Lord have in our Christmas?

God Bridges the Gap ~ Heb. 2:10-13

  • v10 bring to glory NOT heaven; doxa worthy of praise; God’s intent to make US like Him
  • v11/13 God is fulfilling His long given promise, to bring us into His heavenly family

God Becomes the Gift ~ Heb. 2:14-18

  • v14/15 God entered our situation so we could enter His
  • v16/18 Jesus became one of us so He could experience our need (not just know **about** it, but feel it with us, moving from pity to empathy)

Isa.63:9 Our fallen condition is unacceptable to God; it upsets Him. To save “to the uttermost”, He became human so He would experience our humanity – and we would experience His divinity.

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Advent: Preparing for the Child

Advent: Preparing for the Child Sermon Audio Here

Isa.7:10-16; Mat.1:18-25

Consider this: what does a young family do to prepare for the arrival of their first child?

How Can We Prepare for The Arrival of Christmas?

Be Aware of the Background ~ Isaiah 7:10-16

  • v10/13 God (through Isaiah) gives Ahaz a message: don’t worry about your current trouble, it will amount to nothing; Ahaz apparently doesn’t believe, and God says “I’ll prove it!” Ahaz says “no way” and God says, fine, I’ll show you myself! We can get so wrapped up in our own problems that we don’t even want to believe that God Himself can get us out of them – this is IDOLATRY – putting ourselves in God’s rightful place
  • v14/16 the FIRST sign is about TIME, not Person: gestation takes about 9 months; babies generally can eat simple solids by 6 months; children can generally tell wrong from right by age 5. Ahaz is being reassured that God will take care of the situation which so worries Ahaz before a child can tell wrong from right.
  • In short: Don’t worry, God is in control

Be Amazed at the Overlay ~ Matthew 1:18-25

  • v18 virgin (the Hebrew just meant young woman; the Greek shows specific miraculous intervention)
  • v19/20 angel (Isaiah was messenger; here, it’s an angel of God; another miraculous overlay)
  • v21/25 Emmanuel/Jesus (Yeshua=”Ye” is a short form of God’s name Yahweh; “shua” is “a saving cry”, what you yell out when you need help. “Yeshua” isn’t just the cry out TO God, but the ANSWER to that cry.)
  • God comes to you to rescue you. And THAT is Emmanuel – God with us… TO SAVE US!

As we enter this Christmas season, it helps to be aware of where IT came from: a fulfillment of a promise to an anxious man that God would care for the world. That promise is overlaid with supernatural power in the person of Christ. God HAS taken care of the world, DOES care for the world, and WILL bring it all to right. Let us enjoy the work He has done, is doing, and will continue to do as we wait for His Return.

Learning from Luke: From Angels To Shepherds To Us

Learning from Luke: From Angels To Shepherds To Us Sermon Audio Here


Luke 2:1-20

On Christmas morning, many kids “play Santa”: they find a gift, read the tag, and pass the gift along. Even though the gift is from someone else, and for someone else, the distribution alone makes them a part of the gift-giving.

How Are We Involved in God’s Christmas Presence?

God Uses Ordinary People
Luke 2:8-14 Notice who gets the announcement

  • v8 ordinary men
  • v9 heard an extraordinary angel
  • v10/11 with an extraordinary message
  • v12 wrapped in humble beginnings
  • v13/14 response: God deserves the credit

God Uses Ordinary Means
Luke 2:15-20 what do the shepherds do with the angel’s message?

  • v15 “Let’s go see” (cf. 12 you will find)
  • v16/17 They told what they saw
  • v18 response: people are amazed

Let’s follow Mary’s example in verse 19: when we realize that God is at work in us, we TREASURE and PONDER what He is doing. Also, let us follow the shepherd’s example in verse 20: GLORIFY and PRAISE God that He keeps His promises.

Learning from Luke: The Son To Come

Learning from Luke: The Son To Come Sermon Audio Here


Luke 1:26-38

In this section of Luke 1, Jesus’ birth is foretold to Mary. God sends an angel to give Mary a startling piece of news. Have you ever received something so startling, it rocked your worldview? Perhaps Mary can serve as an example to us all:

What Was True For Mary Is True For Us As Well:

The Lord Is With Us
Luke 1:26-33 Gabriel’s Announcement

  • v26/27 once again, notice the details; these ground us in reality
  • v28/29 of COURSE Mary was troubled; when visited by angels,
    most biblical instances show the human is startled
  • v30 “do not be afraid” – most angels say this;
    a VERY good reminder for us when we’re freaking out
  • v31/33 notice how this good news gets better and better as it goes along;
    a son, greatness, called Most High’s Son, David’s heir, reigning, unending kingdom

God Blesses Through Mystery
Luke 1:34-38 Mary’s Response

  • v34 Look how practical Mary is; ummm…
  • v35 this is NOT a description of a physical thing; it is a mystery; Mary does NOT get the “How” of things, just the WHO
  • v36/37 two miracles to notice: you will have a son,
    Elizabeth will have a son;
    (you do not have to go through this alone)
  • v38 simple surrender, even beyond what she can understand

Even though we would very much like God to explain everything to us, that just doesn’t happen. But we can take a cue from Mary’s response to the angel, and also say this to God: I am the Lord’s Servant.

Love For The World ~ Matthew 4:12-25

Love For The World ~ Matthew 4:12-25
How Do We Love The Lost?
* Our Challenge: Hold Up The Light (12-17)
* Our Goal: Follow The Light (18-22)
* Our Invitation: Live In The Light (23-25)
People respond not just to the PERSON of Jesus, but the Call of the Kingdom. We are the ones who share that call with a world dying for lack of love when we extend that invitation to real life in Christ.

Joy To The World: Matthew 3:1-12

Joy To The World: Matthew 3:1-12
~The World Will receive Joy When it:
* Listens To The Message (1-6)
* Heeds The Warning (7-10)
* Prepares For The Result (11-12)
Joy for the World is only found in the Message of the Manger – the lowest of the low places so that no one can reject it out of pride; making room for the Babe in our hearts so that no one rejects Him out of fear.

Found Advent Thoughts

advent candles It’s not often that I find articles in newspapers that I wholeheartedly agree with. When I do, I’m surprised, and a little skittish. Having said that, I found an article about Advent, and I thought I’d some excerpts for your consideration:

– “According to ancient Christian tradition, “Christmas” is not the December shopping season in advance of Christmas Day; rather, it is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the Twelve Days following that run until early January. During most of December, Christians observe Advent, a four-week season of reflection, preparation and waiting that precedes the yearly celebration of Jesus’ birth. In many mainstream and liturgical (and even liberal and progressive) churches, no Christmas hymn will pass the lips of a serious churchgoer for another two weeks.”

– “The mood is somber as December moves toward deeper darkness, and the night lengthens. The world waits, and it is time to prepare for the arrival of God’s kingdom. It is not Christmas. It is Advent.”

– “During these weeks, churches are not merry. There is a muted sense of hope and expectation. Christians recollect God’s ancient promise to Israel for a kingdom where lion and lamb will lie down together. The ministers preach from stark biblical texts about the poor and oppressed being lifted up while the rich and powerful are cast down, about society being leveled and oppression ceasing. Christians remember the Hebrew prophets and long for a Jewish Messiah to be born.”

– “Ancient Christian saints, theologians and evangelists would be horrified that those who claim to stand for tradition have forgotten the most important aspect of it. Jesus Christ was not born that human beings would spend December shopping or saying, “Merry Christmas.” Jesus was born to confront the rulers of this world with the love and justice of the God of Abraham — that Jesus, the same Jesus who preached the the poor and marginalized were blessed, is the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

As we observe Advent, watching and waiting, I’m reminded that we’re not watching and waiting for Christmas; we’re watching and waiting for CHRIST. We remember His birth during the Christmas holiday, but we’re really waiting for His return. When He arrives and calls us Home – that will be something worth celebrating like no other. Until that Day…


Pastor Ed Backell

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