Monday, December 26, 2016

A Different Kind of Christmas

My wife and I sat in the sun room Christmas morning, opening our presents - all by ourselves. It occurred to us that we hadn't done that (opening our presents alone) since before our kids were born. That's over thirty years folks.

There were a lot of things that were different this Christmas than from Christmases past. For example, usually we get snow this time of year. Last night it rained. Global warming? No. Wisconsin weather. The week before it was fourteen below.

I watched a video of a young couple, two kids from my youth group days, announce that  they were having a baby. That should make for a wonderful Christmas celebration!

My personal favorite gift this year was the restored relationship with a family member. Estranged for a year and a half, God chose this Christmas to restore it. What a gift!

On Facebook I've seen pictures of engagement rings, family reunion pictures, and pregnancy reveals. All these new "gifts" to appreciate and enjoy. Still, the one gift that still amazes me each and every year is the gift of Jesus to all of us here on earth.

The story of His "reveal" STILL amazes. God? Born in a manger? Yeah, okay. That makes sense. But this Christmas story actually does make sense once you understand the reason behind it.

I am reading through the Bible right now, the book of Leviticus. That book is always a tough read until you get to chapter five and you suddenly realize why Jesus was born in a barn among the animals.

"5 when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters (sins), they must confess in what way they have sinned. As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin." -Leviticus 5:5-6

The sacrifice for sins, established long before Jesus was born, was to be a spotless lamb. Every time someone sinned there was to be a sacrifice. This went on daily! It's a wonder there are still sheep on the planet!!

That's when God gave us Jesus, to be born, a spotless lamb, to live a sinless, spotless life, and then to be sacrificed, as that spotless human lamb for the sins of the rest of us sheep, once and for all. One sacrifice for all mankind. Jesus was born to die.

"5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." - Romans 6:5-14

What a gift!

May this Christmas bring to you a new commitment to Christ. May you hear of God's plan of redemption in your heart and may you embrace the birth of Christ for what it was - a gift for everyone of us. A gift to take the place on the judgement seat in OUR place! The best gift anyone who loves life and loves Jesus could ever receive - the gift of eternal life with our sacrifice, in heaven!

May each of us have a different kind of Christmas this year. Different from "the world" and they way it thinks Christmas should be like. May WE be the barn. May WE be the manger. And may Jesus be born in us.

Above All - Michael W. Smith
Born In Me - Francesca Battistelli

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