How Should we Celebrate Christmas – Witness!

How Should We Celebrate Christmas? – 'Witness'!

How Should We Celebrate Christmas? – 'Witness'!

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CHAPTER 11

SUBJECT: "How Should We Celebrate Christmas? 'Witness'!"

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8-20

TEXT: "When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child." (Luke 2:17)

INTRODUCTION: If you want to celebrate Christmas authentically, follow the example of the shepherds. The shepherds were motivated to witness (v. 17). They were overcome with a sense of wonder and amazement, and they evoked a sense of wonder in the lives of those to whom they witnessed (v. 18), and they were moved upon to worship and to praise God "for all things they had heard and seen" (v. 20)

I. Mandate For Witnessing

II. Motivation For Witnessing

III. Message In Witnessing

IV. Movement Of Witnessing

CONCLUSION: Pray that you, as a believer, will have such a real and personal encounter with Jesus (during your devotional times) that when you share your testimony with unbelievers, they will be amazed and astonished! To awaken a sense of amazement in the lives of sinners will oftentimes result in a personal quest for spiritual reality, that in turn can lead them to the feet of the Saviour!

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CHAPTER 11

SUBJECT: "HOW SHOULD WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS? 'WITNESS'!"

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8-20

TEXT: "When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child." (Luke 2:17)

INTRODUCTION: How should we celebrate Christmas? There are doubtless many ways that unbelievers celebrate Christmas. I recently heard one of my friends, a former teacher in a public school, who ten years ago left public education. I sensed frustration in his voice as he shared with some of us men in the Church. He said that even 10 years ago the public school, where he was teaching, had become so secularized that the principal would not allow there to be a 'Christmas Program', only a so-called 'Winter Program'!

There are cases of secular humanism sticking up its 'ugly head' to deny the manger scene from the lawns of public buildings in America, and prohibit every child from naming the name of Jesus in the songs they sing during the month of December in public schools!

Don't take me the wrong way! There is nothing wrong in a Christian family having a Christmas tree or in a Christian family singing 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer'. What is wrong is for Christians to become so engrossed in buying gifts for others that they forget that Christmas is a time set aside to celebrate God's greatest gift to mankind – the gift of the Saviour to our sinful world!

"The Angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'" (Luke 2:10-14)

How should we celebrate Christmas? If you want to celebrate Christmas authentically, follow the example of the shepherds. The shepherds were motivated to witness ( v. 17). They were overcome with a sense of wonder and amazement, and they evoked a sense of wonder and amazement in the lives of those to whom they witnessed (v. 18), and they were moved upon to worship and praise God "for all the things they had heard and seen" (v.20).

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I. Mandate For Witnessing

The mandate for witnessing is given to all. Everyone is called to witness. A non-witnessing Christian is a contradiction in terms. Every Christian is 'born to reproduce'. Even those who feel inadequate or untrained or unworthy are called to witness. Never forget, the shepherds were the most unlikely group of people to witness. "That God used them to spread this heavenly message must have stunned them. Shepherds were a despised class in first-century Palestine. The nature of their calling kept them from observing the ceremonial law, which meant a lot to religious people. Shepherds were also considered unreliable and were not even allowed to give testimony in the law courts. But the angels came to shepherds with the great message that Christ the Lord – the Saviour of the world – had been born in the town of David. And despite what others thought of them, the shepherds knew that lost people needed to hear that great message. It is the same today. Jesus is the world's Saviour. And people are still lost without Him." (Montgomery Boice)

Don't belittle yourself, or feel you are incapable or unworthy. God wants to use you! You can make a difference in someone else's life! You may be the best Christian that someone knows!

Lay persons who witness to other lay persons are the most effective witnesses! The vast majority of persons who come to Church and eventually to Christ, come as a result of a friend's witness and invitation. It is not great ability that God is looking for; it is great availability. A person with a simple testimony and a sincere faith and a great love for people is the kind of person that God is looking for. Not great intellect, or formal theological education, or persuasive oratorical skills. Everyone can be a witness for Jesus – the high and the low, the young and the old, the educated and the uneducated, the rich and the poor. If God can use shepherds, He can use anyone to 'spread abroad His message'! Every Christian is called to witness!

II. Motivation For Witnessing

The true motivation for witnessing comes from one's firsthand encounter with God! Just like the shepherds, we must hear from God. They heard the angels' voices and they saw the glory of God for themselves. It was not secondhand. It was firsthand!

What motivates a person to tell another person about Jesus? Nothing less than a firsthand experience of Jesus!

There is a little song that says, "I was there when it happened, and I ought to know." No guessing, no mere hoping, or wishful thinking, or illusions of the mind, or speculations! No, none of these! These shepherds heard with their own ears and they saw with their own eyes! When a person, like the shepherds, personally experiences the presence of God and personally feels the tug of God on his heart, and personally hears the voice of God and the heavenly music of the angels, he can never be the same

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again! What he was seen, he can never unsee! His new experience forever puts him on a higher plane of reality, and he cannot keep his newfound message to himself!

Why are some professing Christians close-mouthed about Jesus, paralyzed by fear in the presence of sinners? Could their lack of motivation be due to the fact that many would-be witnesses have only a dead body of orthodox beliefs rather than a living encounter with Christ, to share with others?

If we are not spreading the Word of God to others, it is probably because we have not personally heard the voice of God!

It is easy to tell others about a new discovery or a new promotion or a new gift or a new experience. Spontaneity in witnessing is the result of natural excitement which is experienced because we have seen Jesus!

If you are having a hard time being motivated to witness, it might be good to evaluate the quality of your personal devotional life. He who has a vital devotional life with God is the same one who has a winsome and compelling witness to men. We can only touch others after we have first been touched by God! When God whispers into our spiritual ears the wonders of his love, then we desire to shout with our physical lips the glories of his message!

How can one be quiet after he has seen the glory of heaven revealed to him by God's holy angels and by God's Holy Spirit? If you merely witness out of a sense of 'oughtness' or guilt or legal requirement, you will soon lose your motivation, and your effectiveness will be greatly reduced. It is easy to witness to others when you have something compelling and exciting to share!

III. Message In Witnessing

What is the message or content of effective witnessing? It is rather simple, yet profound in its results! It is the message of "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2: 14) When the shepherds spread the word to others, they did not focus on the beauty of the angels (the messengers), nor did they focus their attention on a description of the nighttime surroundings (the context and the immediate circumstances in which the message was revealed to them). Neither did the shepherds focus on their personal feelings of fright as a result of seeing the angelic host (i.e., their personal emotions that came as a result of their own spiritual encounter and experience). Rather, they "spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child" (v. 7)

It is important to focus only on Jesus when we are witnessing to others. There may be special persons whom God used to lead you to Christ – like an evangelist or a pastor or a friend or a relative. But it is not the messenger that we focus on in our witness to another, even if that messenger (as in the case of the shepherds) happens to be most unusual -like a miraculous encounter with angels! If God used a great miracle – like a

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physical healing of your body – 'to catch your attention' and to bring the message of salvation to you, that is wonderful! But when you witness to another person, never focus on the 'messenger' (be it a person or a miraculous event) that God used to bring you to Christ. Rather, focus on Christ!

When you witness to another, never focus on the specific circumstances that accompanied your spiritual encounter with God. The shepherds did not spend time describing the beautiful hilltop topography – the location where they received their revelation from heaven! It is true that a certain altar of prayer or a certain room or a certain Church or a certain stadium may be a sacred place to you, for it was in that locality that you met Christ. Perhaps you found Christ in a special Church, with a special pastor who served in a special denomination. Fine and good that you mention these circumstances in your witness, but for you to focus on the circumstances and situations that accompanied your conversion or your unique spiritual experience, is about as ridiculous as the shepherds focusing on the topography of the hilltop where they happened to receive their spiritual revelation!

The shepherds did not focus on the host of angels; neither did they focus on their immediate surroundings and make a memorial out of the specific hilltop where God revealed his message on that memorable night.

The content of our witness should never focus on the messenger whom God used to reveal Himself to us. N either should the content of our witness focus on the specific circumstances or location or context of our personal conversion. And, further, the content of our witness should never focus on our own personal experience – i.e., our own emotional responses at the time of our encounter with the supernatural realm. The shepherds did not make a 'big deal' over the angelic host (as wonderful as this was), nor did they make a 'big deal' over the location where this unique experience took place (the hilltop outside of Bethlehem), nor did they talk about their own personal experience at the time of the miraculous encounter (i.e., their response of fear and awe). These things – the messenger, the location of the spiritual encounter, the personal emotional response from the encounter – are all significant, but they are all secondary.

What is primary in one's witness? Testimony regarding the person and the work of Jesus Christ! The Good News of Jesus Christ is the focal point of authentic witness: "A Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord… 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'" (Luke 2:11, Luke 2:14)

If you speak to sinners about your own experience rather than about the person and the work of Jesus Christ, you will focus the attention of others on you instead of on Christ. Never minimize your own personal religious experience, but never make your own experience 'normative'. The important thing is for people to turn their lives over to Jesus. If your unique experience is elevated, others who are seeking God may think they must have an experience which is identical to your experience (emotional responses, etc.) if their experience with God is to be authentic. Give Christ to people, and reinforce your testimony regarding Christ with your own personal

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experience (the messenger that God used in your life, the location and context of your conversion, the feelings you had at the time of your encounter with God), but never focus on yourself when you are seeking to witness. Focus on Christ – His mission as Saviour, His call to repentance and faith, His power to forgive sins and to transform lives. You are leading people to Christ, not to you! You are seeking to give them Christ, not your own personal experience of Christ! Focus, therefore, on Christ!

IV. Movement Of Witnessing

The 'movement' of witnessing is described in the following words: "When they (the shepherds) had seen him (the Christ child), they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child." (Luke 2:17)

It was most natural for the shepherds to leave the Bethlehem manger and to spread the word far and wide regarding this new-born baby – the Saviour of the world!

When you have received news that your wife is to have a baby, or that you are getting a long-awaited-for job, or that you have been awarded with a sizeable college scholarship, or that you have been promoted to a coveted position of prominence, or that you have been granted a large financial gift in the settlement of an estate, how do you respond? Usually, if not always, with great gladness and excitement! You can hardly wait to tell a friend about your new gift or your new promotion, etc.! It is natural, and almost inevitable, for you to share good news with someone else.

So, it was with the shepherds! They had heard from heaven! They had seen God's holy angels! Most importantly, they had seen and adored the newborn child at Bethlehem! Their lives were filled with wonder and their hearts were overflowing with joy. How could they keep such good news to themselves? It was easy to "spread the Word concerning what had been told them about this child." (Luke 2:17)

What is witnessing? Witnessing is both a Noun and a Verb. It is first a Noun before it is a Verb. I witness by what I am before I witness by what I say. The shepherds first became witnesses of the event (Noun), and then they went forth and told what they had experienced firsthand (Verb).

We are a witness first by personally experiencing an encounter with God, and then we do witnessing by telling others about the Christ who has personally touched our lives. Using our lips, we desire to introduce others to the Christ who wants to change their lives as well.

The whole movement in witnessing is a movement that is outward, not inward; forward-moving, not backward-looking; extroverted, not introverted; aggressive, not passive; experiential, not theoretical; concrete, not abstract; contagious, not drab; persuasive, not coercive; universal, not exclusive.

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In terms of witnessing, Jesus said, "Go into all the world and make disciples. "He said "Go out into the highways and byways and compel men to come into the kingdom of God." It is Christians who are commanded to go to sinners, not sinners who are commanded to come to the Church. It is great when sinners come to our Churches to become converted to Christ, but Church was never intended to be the primary place where sinners are converted; it is in the 'highways and byways' of life (i.e., in the home, office, factory, school, and neighborhood) where people are to be reached for Christ. "When they (the shepherds) had seen him (Christ), they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child." (Luke 2:17)

What had been told them regarding this Bethlehem Babe? That he is the Saviour, that he is Christ the Lord (i.e., that he is the Messiah who is in charge of all of life), that he is the One through whom God is glorified and sinners are reconciled (v. 14). Jesus is the Messiah (the Anointed One of God), the One who can save from sin, the One who can rule the hearts and lives of people, the One who can speak peace to troubled hearts and who can reconcile alienated souls to God!

How can we spread such Good News to those around us, far and wide? First, by being radiant persons in our very being, because we have seen and have heard the Lord in a vital and real way ourselves (like the shepherds whose very countenances must have been changed after they heard the angels announce the "good news of great joy that will be for all people!") (v. 10) Second, by taking the initiative to share Christ verbally with those who are in the "circle of our own influence" (v. 17). Third, by the action of good works. Jesus, said, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Be a witness for Jesus – by your changed personality, by your clear words, and by your good deeds!

When you fall in love with Jesus, your love for Jesus and your excitement about the saving message of Jesus, will compel you to 'spread the word' to others (v. 17). Because of your transformed character, your personal testimony, and your compassionate deeds, there will be many who will surrender their lives also to Christ the Lord, the Babe of Bethlehem, who transformed the lives and the words of those first shepherds long ago!

What is witnessing? Someone said that witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Spirit and leaving the results with God. Your job, as a believer, is simply to witness, i.e., to tell others what you know about Jesus as a result of a firsthand contact with Him. After the shepherds actually saw the Christ Child and after they earlier had heard from God regarding the identity and mission of this special child through angel messengers on the lighted hillside, they could never be the same! Their lives were transformed, and transformed persons are strongly motivated to share

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their authentic Christian witness with their non-Christian friends. Not hearsay, not second-hand reports, not theological speculations! Firsthand experience, filled with the vitality of one who has personally seen Jesus!

CONCLUSION: What results can one anticipate in the lives of those who listen to such an authentic witness? Perhaps conversion, but at least amazement, in the lives of those who take time to hear the testimony of genuine believers. "And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." (v. 18)

Amazement leads to further inquiry, which can eventually lead to personal conversion to Christ.

Pray that you, as a believer, will have such a real and personal encounter with Jesus (during your devotional times) that when you share your testimony with unbelievers, they will be amazed and astonished! To awaken a sense of amazement in the lives of sinners will oftentimes result in a personal quest for spiritual reality, that in turn can lead them to the feet of the Saviour!

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CHAPTER 11

Questions

  1. In light of the secularistic and materialistic trends in our American society, how do you believe an earnest Christian should properly observe Christmas, in terms of 'customs' and 'traditions'? Is it possible for equally sincere believers to differ in their viewpoints and practices, in their celebration of Christmas? Why or why not?

  2. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statements: "Everyone is called to witness. A non-witnessing Christian is a contradiction in terms. Every Christian is 'born to reproduce'."

  3. When you personally feel inadequate or ungifted in witnessing for Christ, why could a study of the shepherds' witnessing to Christ's birth be a great encouragement and motivation to you?

  4. Give your personal reaction or response to the following statement: "You may be the best Christian that someone knows."

  5. Check those statements which describe the essential qualities that a person must possess, in order to be an effective and Christ-honoring witness:

    1. ___ Ordination as a Christian minister.

    2. ___ Special theological education.

    3. ___ Youthfulness in actions and appearance.

    4. ___ Articulation in speech.

    5. ___ Outgoing personality.

    6. ___ Cleverness in presentation of Gospel Message.

    7. ___ Memorization of several Bible Verses which explain the 'Plan of Salvation.'

    8. ___ Forceful and Persuasive in verbal declaration of truth.

    9. ___ Handsome or beautiful in physical appearance.

    10. ___ Experience as a Christian for at least ten years.

    11. ___ A simple, personal testimony of God's transforming power in your life.

    12. ___ A sincere faith in God's promises as recorded in God's Word (Bible).

    13. ___ A great love for lost (unsaved) people.

    14. ___ A deep desire to help fulfill Christ's 'Great Commission'.

    15. ___ An understanding of the Biblical teaching regarding the meaning of 'Repentance' and 'Saving Faith'.

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    16. ___ A courage that enables one to 'risk rejection' from the unsaved persons with whom you desire to share God's plan of salvation.

    17. ___ Availability to God for Him to use you as His 'mouthpiece' to declare the universal love of God to sinners who feel helpless and hopeless and loved.

    18. ___ Special training in the arts of oratory and persuasive speech.

    19. ___ Fearlessness and great bravery in order to meet and to witness to strangers.

    20. ___ Sensitivity to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who often gives special guidance in witnessing, as He did with Philip (Acts 8:26-40).

    21. ___ A vision for the lost, a compassion for the lost, a burden which compels you to share the 'Good News' of forgiveness and transformation.

    22. ___ An argumentative approach which supports a dogmatic declaration of truth that does not allow the seeking sinner to ask any questions or to offer any challenges or disagreements.

    23. ___ A gentle spirit, a listening ear, a tender heart, are understanding mind, an unobtrusive mannerism all of which prepare you to build a love relationship with the sinner as a person, rather than treating him as a 'case' or an abstract 'soul' which needs rescued from hell.

    24. ___ A humble and teachable spirit, which allows discussion and which invites extended inquiry into the 'claims of Christ' and into the meaning of the 'Christian life' from sincere and intelligent persons who need time and thought before making a personal commitment to Christ.

    25. ___ Special training in the Apologetics of Christianity, to provide much 'ammunition' for debate with non-believers.

    26. ___ An ability to give a clear, Biblical answer to questions which non-believers ask regarding God, Man, Sin, and Jesus Christ.

    27. ___ Empowerment from the Holy Spirit in order that you may be bold and loving in your witness to non-Christians.

    28. ___ Possession of the gift of evangelism.

    29. ___ Willingness to speak in behalf of the person and power of Jesus Christ, in spite of personal feelings of inadequacy and feelings of fear of people.

    30. ___ A sense of respect for the eternal value of a never-dying soul who desperately needs Christ as Saviour and who will not go to heaven unless he is born again.

    31. ___ A prayerful attitude which allows the Holy Spirit to guide you to those sinners who have been prepared by God to receive the message of salvation.

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  6. What motivates a person to tell another person about Jesus?

  7. Why are some professing Christians close-mouthed about Jesus, paralyzed by fear in the presence of sinners who desperately need someone to introduce them to Jesus Christ?

  8. Tell to what degree you agree with the following statement: "Spontaneity in witnessing is the result of natural excitement which is experienced because we have seen Jesus."

  9. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "He who has a vital devotional life with God is the same one who has a winsome and compelling witness to men."

  10. Put a check by those statements which describe what should be the "Focus" of your witness to a non-Christian person.

    • ___ The messenger whom God used to lead you to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

    • ___ The specific circumstances and location and context in which you personally accepted Christ as your own Saviour.

    • ___ Your own emotional responses which you experienced at the time of your own personal encounter with the supernatural realm.

    • ___ Testimony regarding the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

  11. Tell if you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If your own unique spiritual experience is elevated when you witness to non-Christian, others who are seeking God may think they must have your own identical experience (emotional responses, etc.) if their experience with God is to be authentic."

  12. Tell if you believe the following statements are Biblically-supportable:" "When you witness to unsaved people, do not focus on yourself if, but instead, always focus on Christ – His mission as Saviour, His call to repentance and faith, His power to forgive sins and to transform lives. You are leading people to Christ, not to you! You are seeking to give them Christ, not your own personal experience of Christ. Focus, therefore, on Christ! Talk about Him, not about yourself!"

  13. Why was it so easy and 'natural' for the shepherds to witness to others about the Babe of Bethlehem?

  14. Tell what is meant by the statement: "Witnessing is first a Noun before it is a Verb."

  15. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statements: "The whole movement in witnessing is a movement that is outward, not inward; forward-moving; not backward-looking; extroverted, not introverted; aggressive, not passive, experiential,

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    not theoretical; practical, not academic; concrete, not abstract; contagious, not drab; persuasive, not coercive; universal, not exclusive."

  16. Does the Bible command Christians to GO to sinners, or sinners to GO to Christians and to the Christian Church? (Note Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 14:23) Tell if you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The Church was never intended to be the primary place where sinners are converted."

  17. Do you believe that all three of the following are indispensable if a believer is to be an effective witness for Christ: (a) Transformed personality, (b) Verbal communication of the saving message, (c) Performance of compassionate and Christlike good deeds?

  18. Do you believe the following definition of witnessing properly reflects Biblical examples of witnessing? – "Witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ, in the power of the Spirit and leaving the results with God."

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How Should we Celebrate Christmas – Wonder!

How Should We Celebrate Christmas? – 'Wonder'!

How Should We Celebrate Christmas? – 'Wonder'!

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CHAPTER 12

SUBJECT: "How Should We Celebrate Christmas? 'Wonder'!"

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8-20

TEXT: "And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." (Luke 2:18)

INTRODUCTION: The shepherds, on that historic night, were filled with amazement and wonder. Have you ever been filled with a sense of wonder and amazement as a result of some spiritual experience? What does it mean to 'wonder'? To wonder is to marvel, to admire, to be surprised, to hold one's breath, to be electrified, to be taken aback, to be startled, to be astonished! The sense of awe and wonder and amazement and surprise is what gives mystery and splendor to life. It is a quality unique only to human beings!

What was the greatest of all of God's acts? God's act of becoming a Man!

I. Amazed That He Who Is So Big Could Become So Small.

II. Amazed That He Who Is So Strong Could Become So Weak.

III. Amazed That He Who Is So Removed Could Become So Near And So Personable.

IV. Amazed That He Who Is So Rich Could Become So Poor.

V. Amazed That He Who Is So Sinless Could Become So Close To Sinners.

VI. Amazed That He Who Was So Glorified In Heaven, Could Become So Obscure On Earth.

VII. Amazed That He Who Was So Beautiful Could Become So Battered And Disfigured.

CONCLUSION: As you celebrate Christmas this year, take some time to get alone with God and with God's Word – and let yourself WONDER! Bow at the manger and marvel at the child! Then rise to your feet and live a transformed life! Be daily 'lost in wonder, love and praise'!

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CHAPTER 12

SUBJECT: "How Should We Celebrate Christmas? 'Wonder'!"

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8-20

TEXT: "And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." (Luke 2:18)

INTRODUCTION: The shepherds, on that historic night, were filled with amazement and wonder. Have you ever been filled with a sense of wonder and amazement as a result of some spiritual experience?

What does it mean to 'wonder'? To wonder is to marvel, to admire, to be surprised, to hold one's breath, to be electrified, to be taken aback, to be startled, to be astonished!

When you think about it, life is full of 'WONDER'!

It is that feeling that you have when you look through a microscope and discover a whole new world of brilliant color and strange and fascinating shapes. Or when you first see the craters on the moon for the first time as you peer through a powerful telescope. A feeling of awe and amazement!

It is that feeling that you have when you come away from studying the various theories which modem engineers give in their attempts to explain the ancient marvels of the Egyptian pyramids! 'The Great Pyramid' – the largest of them all- contains more than 2 million stone blocks that average 2 ½ tons; it covers 73 acres and stands about 350 feet tall!

Why do we talk about the Seven Wonders of the Word? Because each is an accomplishment that seems to defy human reason. They are out-of-the-ordinary, the amazing feats of men's hands. Stand before an Egyptian pyramid and you will be taken aback, you will marvel, you will be filled with amazement. The Seven Wonders of the World will leave you with your 'mouth open'!

It is that feeling that you get when you make a serious study of the human body! How amazing is the human body! The human brain is the most incredible creation of God that we know about! "Tucked beneath the skull in each of our heads is a three pound, jellylike mound that looks like crinkled putty, but is actually a collection of between 10 billion and 100 billion neurons. Each neuron is as complex as an entire small computer, and consists of a central nerve-cell core attached to a long tail and several thousand wispy 'dendrites'. The dendrites reach out to make contact with other dendrites, and if we could count the number of contact points (scientists call the connecting points 'synapses'), it is estimated

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that there may be as many as 1 quadrillion in every human brain." (Magnificent Mind; page 23; Gary Collins) Truly, we feel like declaring with the Psalmist I am fearfully and wonderfully made".

It is that feeling which comes over us when, along with millions of others, we view the launching of a multi-toned rocket into space! We declare with others, "It takes away my breath!"

Talking about traveling in space, I never cease to be amazed when I watch a 747 Jet take off from the Denver International Airport! It seems impossible to me that a gigantic, heavy object like a plane could actually overcome the pull of gravity and fly in mid air! Can't you imagine how the skeptical on-lookers must have felt when the Wright brothers actually took their first flight? Recently I was interviewing some of my older relatives – those in their late 70's and 80's (and one was 90), and they told me how when they were kids in the little rural community of Fountain, Colorado, they were fascinated when they saw their first airplane fly over the town. Some kids were on the three story school building roof – totally awe-struck as they saw this 'flying object' go over their building! What a wonder!

It is that feeling that I get when I see the drawings of Joni Eareckson. Those intricate drawings, produced by the small brush, manipulated by the lips and tongue of Joni (who is paralyzed from her shoulders down) make me stand back aghast! I can hardly believe it!

The sense of awe and wonder is what you feel when you see a baby born – a new life, a never-dying soul, an eternal creature made in God's own image, a person with amazing potential. One school teacher used to come into his classroom of boys and first make a small bow to them, before he started his lesson. Asked why he did this, he said, "Who knows, I may be bowing to a future king." As I recall the story, one of those young children in that classroom was Martin Luther – the man whose revolutionary ideas changed the whole fabric of modem history! Do you have a sense of awe and wonder and reverence when you are in the presence of a group of children?

It is that feeling I had when I went to my first opera! I was awestruck (with my mouth opened in amazement) as I heard what seemed like angelic voices! I will never forget that operatic play! After it was over, I went back stage and met one of the young opera singers. I knew I was in the presence of one of the greatest young singers in America!

A sense of awe and wonder comes over me when I observe a world marathon runner (like at the Olympics) who can run 5 minute miles for 26 consecutive miles without stopping! I can't run one mile at that speed, let alone 26 miles! I am amazed, and I am dumb founded! How can any human body move that fast and continue to run for that distance without stopping?

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When I go to a circus and watch the tight rope walkers, my breath is taken away as I watch in wonderment! I hold my breath, wondering if that person is going to slip and fall to the floor, forty feet below! I want to close my eyes when I see him carrying someone on his shoulders!

The sense of awe and wonder and amazement and surprise is what gives mystery and majesty and splendor to life. Whether one recognizes it or not, this feeling of awe is a so-called 'religious feeling'. It is a quality unique only to human beings! As far as we know, there is no animal that has the capacity to stand back with it's mouth open, beholding the wonders of life, appreciating the beautiful creation of God and the amazing feats of man. It is a spiritual quality that is evidence of our unique creation.

This sense of awe regarding the mysteries of nature and regarding the amazing feats of men – this response of wonderment is meant to take us to deeper depths! To the depths of spiritual realities! When Paul meditated on the ways of God, he was often "lost in wonder, love, and praise."

The Psalmist was filled with wonder when he wrote about the Lord and the Lord's marvelous ways: "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts." (Psalms 145:3-4)

PROPOSITION: What is the greatest of all of God's acts? God's act of becoming a Man!

I. Amazed That He Who Is So Big Could Become So Small.

Have you ever thought for even a short time of the magnitude of the universe? There is no way our finite minds can comprehend sizes and distances in the universe. For instance, our sun is 1 million times bigger than our earth! And yet our sun is a small star compared to the size of other stars. Our Milky Way Galaxy is but one small Galaxy compared to the billions of other Galaxies in our vast Universe. And yet, if we could travel 186,000 miles per second (the speed of light) it would take us 100,000 years to travel across only this one galaxy (the Milky Way Galaxy)!

Considering the size of this Universe, by way of comparison, our own planet Earth is smaller than a piece of dust in this room (compared to the space of the entire room)! I find myself 'lost in wonder' that the Creator God could ever or would ever come and live in a human body on this planet! But, remember, God is Creator of the universe, and, as such, He is separate from this universe.

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Just think, the Creator of all became confined to a human body for a space of 33 years! How big He is, and yet how small He became! How wonderful, how amazing! Notes J. B. Phillip, "It is a fascinating problem for us human beings to consider how the Eternal Being – wishing to show men His own Character focused, His own Thought expressed, and His own Purpose demonstrated – could introduce Himself into the stream of human history without disturbing or disrupting it. There must obviously be an almost unbelievable 'scaling-down' of the 'size' of God to match the life of the planet. There must be a complete acceptance of the space-and-time limitations of this present life." (The Newborn Christian; J. B. Phillips; page 6, 7)

It is hard to imagine that God – the One who is omnipresent (able to be everywhere at one time) – could confine himself to one human body for over three decades! Jesus is God focused, God scaled-down, and yet, while it is true that He is God limited, He is nevertheless authentically God!

Can you imagine a junior angel having a conversation with a senior angel, the latter teaching the former about the realities of the small planet called earth? Perhaps the conversation would go something like this:

"I want you to watch that one particularly," said the senior angel, pointing with his finger.

Well, it looks very small and rather dirty to me," said the little angel. "What's special about that one?"

"That," replied his senior solemnly, "is the Visited Planet."

"'Visited'?" said the little one. "You don't mean visited by —"

"Indeed I do. That ball, which 1 have no doubt looks to you small and insignificant and perhaps not over clean, has been visited by our young Prince of Glory." And at these words he bowed his head reverently.

"But how?" queried the younger one. "Do you mean that our great and glorious Prince, with all these wonders and splendors of His Creation, and millions more that I'm sure 1 haven't seen yet, went down in Person to this fifth-rate little ball? Why should He do a thing like that?"

"It isn't for us," said his senior, a little stiffly, 'to question His 'ways', except that 1 must point out to you that He is not impressed by size and numbers as you seem to be. But that He really went I

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know, and all of us in Heaven who know anything know that. As to why He became one of them …. how else do you suppose could He visit them?"

The little angel's face wrinkled in disgust.

"Do you mean to tell me," he said, "that He stooped so low as to become one of those creeping, crawling creatures of that floating ball?"

"I do, and I don't think He would like you to call them 'creeping crawling creatures' in that tone of voice. For, strange as it may seem to us, He loves them. He went down to visit them to lift them up to become like Him." (Ibid; pg. 32)

Think of it! "The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man – a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language, weighing so many pounds. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby and before that a fetus inside a woman's body. It you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab." (The Joyful Christian; C. S. Lewis; p. 51)

II. Amazed That He Who Is So Strong Could Become So Weak.

The story of Christmas is the story of the omnipotent (all-powerful) God becoming a man – a man who was subject to human limitations and weaknesses. A man who became weary with work, who needs like all humans to sleep, to eat, and to clothe himself. A man who wept with the weeping, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Jesus was fully God, but Jesus was too fully Man. A man who needed others, a man who longed for companionship, a man who suffered being tempted, a man who was moved with compassion as He looked upon the multitudes, a man who was acutely aware of physical pain as the nails were driven into His quivering flesh on the rugged cross – the very cross that was so heavy that he fell beneath its load on his long journey up Calvary's Mountain!

How amazing to think that He (Jesus) who made the sun would be so weak and so helpless as a babe in a lowly manger, that he would, on the day of his birth, need the warmth of swaddling clothes and the warm breath of a nearby ox! "That He, from whose hands came planets and worlds, would one day have tiny arms that would not be long enough to touch the heads of the cattle. That the Eternal Word would be dumb. That omnipotence would be wrapped in swaddling clothes. That the feet that trod the everlasting hills, would be too weak to walk." (Bishop Fulton Sheen)

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III. Amazed That He Who Is So Removed Could Become So Near And So Personable.

By His very nature, God is transcendent, i.e., He is holy, separate, far removed from man. is ways are higher than man's ways, as high as the heavens are above the earth.

How amazing that He who is so far above and far removed from man, could Himself become a Man! Wonder of wonders that this God would bow so low as to become one of us! The transcendent One is now the immanent One – the One who is closer to us than hands or feet or breathing!

Jesus said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world!"

Jesus is God focused, God approachable, God knowable, God touchable, God seeable, in short 'God domesticated'!

One man – a worldly man who was a bundle of nerves and on the brink of an emotional breakdown – visited a doctor, seeking help and wanting a release from his nervous tension. Said the doctor to the man, "The only way you are going to get relief from your nervous tension and mental anxiety is to pray." "What!" said the man, "you mean to tell me that I need to talk to that up there? You just as well could tell me to shake hands with the 'Milky Way"'!

To this worldly man, God was at best an abstract force or impersonal entity, far removed from the concerns of mankind. To him, 'God' (whatever that term means) was totally unapproachable and far removed and uninvolved in the affairs and the problems of man.

The Incarnation teaches us that God, far from being detached and disinterested in man, is instead the God who has taken the initiative in seeking and saving mankind! There is a story of a woman who was trying to find God. "She had a certain dream which she dreamed more than once, namely, that she was standing in front of a thick plate glass window. As she looked at it, she seemed to see God on the other side. She hammered on the window, trying to attract His attention, but without success. She grew more and more desperate, and began to call to Him and found herself shrieking at the top of her voice. And then a quiet, calm voice at her side said: 'Why are you making so much noise? There is nothing between us.' Perhaps that illustrates our difficulty, does it not? We have been groping around for a long time, and all the while He is standing beside us." (Mr. Jones, Meet the Master; Peter Marshall; pg. 131)

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The amazing news in the Christmas story is that God is in our world, that He is not far removed but that He is totally personal and personable. It is a great thing to know that God loves the human race — corporately yes, but more amazingly, individually. Paul Rees tells of a community canvass being made. "At a certain door the questioner asked the woman who answered his knock what children she had. She began, 'Well, there's Willie, and Horace.' But the canvasser interrupted, 'Never mind names, I just want numbers. Then she grew impatient and a bit indignant. 'They haven't got numbers,' she protested. 'Everyone of them got a name.'" Concludes Paul Rees: "They had personalities that spoke with all the eloquence of their individual characteristics ….. So God looks upon His human creatures." (Stand Up In Praise To God; Paul Rees; pg. 23 – 24)

"You may or may not be aware of Him. But He is, at this very moment, sharply aware of you. He knows you – as you are." (What Is God Like? By Eugenia Price; pg. 23)

Regarding God's personal love for him as a sole individual, the Psalmist wrote, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your Book! How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can't even count how many times a day your thoughts turn towards me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!" (Psalms 130:13-18, Living Bible)

Do you realize that "the very hairs on your head are all numbered"? (Matthew 10:30)

"Another passage says: 'He hath visited and redeemed his people'. The only way to redeem His people was to visit them. He couldn't sit on a cloud and utter commands, or pick us up and take us to heaven with celestial tongs, not soiling His fingers with the messy business of human living. No, He dwelt among us – amid our poverty, amid our temptations, amid our problems and choices, amid our oppositions and disappointments, He lived among us and showed us how to live by living." (The Word Became Flesh; E. S. Jones; pg. 34)

God loves you as if you were 'an only child'! If you would have been the only one who would have ever lived, Jesus would have died for you! That's how much He loves you!

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'Immanuel' – the name given for Jesus – means 'God with us'! As John Wesley lay dying in his bed, the last thing he was heard to say was: "The best of all is that God is with us!"

Yes, I stand amazed to think that He who is so removed (transcendent) could become so near (immanent) and so personable! One of the great wonders of the Incarnation!

IV. Amazed That He Who Is So Rich Could Become So Poor.

Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity, was the Creator of everything. "Christ himself is the Creator who made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can't; the spirit world with its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities; all were made by Christ for his own use and glory." (Colossians 1:16, Living Bible)

How amazing, that He for whom all riches in creation were made, left all those riches to be reduced to earth's poverty. No room even in the inn, born in a stable where animals live. "He who later was to be slaughtered by men, acting as beasts, was born among beasts." (Bishop Sheen)

"Out of the ivory palaces 
Into a world of woe, 
Only His great eternal love ... 
Made my Saviour go." 

Jesus gave up the riches of heaven to accept the poorness of humanity! If he lived as the wealthiest King on earth, that status would still be lowly, compared to His place of royalty that He enjoyed in heaven, but he did not live like a king. Instead, he lived in poverty. Not out of self-pity, but merely to state the nature of His incarnate state, Jesus once said, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but I the Messiah, have no home of my own – no place to lay my head." (Matthew 8:20, Living Bible)

His calloused hands testified to the fact of his hard work as a carpenter. He, the oldest child, worked with his hands, as a skilled carpenter, until he was 30 years old. Tradition holds that Joseph died when Jesus was relatively young, and that Jesus financially supported His mother and several younger brothers and sisters. Life was not easy for Jesus.

Wrote Paul, "You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus was; though he was so very rich, yet to help you he became so very poor, so that by being poor

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he could make you rich. " (2 Corinthians 8:9, Living Bible) Jesus chose voluntary poverty that He might die for the lost!

V. Amazed That He Who Is So Sinless Could Become So Close To Sinners.

Jesus, the sinless Son of God, was called "the friend of publicans and sinners." What He was called in derision, He was in reality!

He who knew no sin, became our sin bearer on the cross! "When we were utterly helpless with no way of escape, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners who had no use for Him. Even if we were good, we really wouldn't expect anyone to die for us, though, of course, that might be barely possible. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:6-8, Living Bible)

"I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, 
And wonder how He could love me, A sinner, condemned, unclean. 
He took my sins and my sorrows; He made them His very own; 
He bore the burden to Calvary, And suffered, and died alone. 

Chorus:

How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be; 
How marvelous! How wonderful! Is my Saviour's love for me! 

"And can it be that I should gain 
An interest in the Saviour's blood? 
Died He for me, who caused His pain? 
For me, who Him to death pursued? 
Amazing love! How can it be 
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? 
Amazing love! How can it be 
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? 

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"He left His Father's throne above, 
So free, so infinite His grace! 
Emptied himself of all but love, 
And bled for Adam's helpless race; 
'Tis mercy all! Immense and free, 
For, O my God, it found out me! 
'Tis mercy all! Immense and free, 
For, O my God, it found out me! 

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 
O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. 
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" 

"There's the wonder of sunset at evening, 
The wonder as sunrise I see; 
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul 
Is the wonder that God loves me 
O, the wonder of it all! 
The wonder of it all! 
Just to think that God loves me 
O the wonder of it all! 
The wonder of it all! 
Just to think that God loves me 

One cannot understand the significance of the Incarnation without understanding the importance of the atoning death of Jesus! Jesus was born to die! To die for sinners like you and like me! "He went to the cross and made identification with us complete – there He was identified with us at our lowest place – the place of our sin. 'He became sin for us'. He was crucified between two sinners as one of them. So identified with us in our sin that He cried the cry of dereliction which we have to cry when we sin: 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?' 'He bore our sins in His own body on a tree.' The identification and, hence, the incarnation were complete. He was identified with our sins. But the identification was not quite complete – sin and death are always connected. So having tasted our sins, He would have to taste our death too." (The Word Became Flesh; pg. 60)

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"Love so amazing, so divine, 
Demands my soul, my life, my all!" 

VI. Amazed That He Who Was So Glorified In Heaven, Could Become So Obscure On Earth.

If Jesus was God, why was He not recognized as God when He was on earth? Because He stripped Himself of all his divine prerogatives – save one, love – when He became man.

"Many years ago, when the Duke of Windsor was the Prince of Wales, he one day left Buckingham Palace, journeyed west into the coal mining country, put on a miner's cap, and went down into the dingy tunnels to see for himself the conditions in which men toiled in a difficult and dangerous branch of British industry. As a member of the Royal family he was as much a prince in the coal mine as he was when he lived in the palace in London. But, while his essential equality with royalty was unchanged, there was no longer an equality of experience. He had consented to enter into experience that never came to him amid the elegance and immunities of the palace." (proclaiming the New Testament; Paul Rees; pg. 44)

When the Prince of Wales was in the dingy coal mine, dressed in miner's clothes, his identity as royalty was obscured. When Jesus, the Heavenly Prince of God, was dwelling for 33 years in the 'coal mines' of earth, amidst the filth of man's sinful environment, most failed to identify Him as the pure and the spotless Son of God.

Notes Swindoll, "Who could have cared about the birth of a baby while the world was watching Rome in all her splendor? … Political intrigue, racial tension, increased immorality, and enormous military might occupied everyone's attention and conversation. Palestine existed under the crush of Rome's heavy boot. All eyes were on Augustus, the cynical Caesar who demanded a census so as to determine a measurement to enlarge taxes. At that time who was interested in a couple making an eight mile trip south from Nazareth? What could possibly be more important than Caesar's decisions in Rome? Who cared about a Jewish baby born in Bethlehem?" (paper from R. C. Sproul)

Jesus was born in obscurity. He lived in obscurity, as a common laborer, until he was 30 years old. And even during his 3 year public ministry, during which time He drew many followers to Himself, Jesus was not without His enemies. His popularity waned, and finally through intrigue and evil plotting, He received the sentence of death by crucifixion!

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It is amazing to me that He who was so glorified, occupying the center of attention in the universe and in Heaven itself, should become on earth an object of cruel scorn and heartless rejection, eventuating in crucifixion!

He gave up the glory of heaven to receive the shame of earth – all because He loved a lost race! "Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as to actually to die a criminal's death on a cross." (Philippians 2:5-8, Living Bible)

VII. Amazed That He Who Was So Beautiful Could Become So Battered And Disfigured.

The beauty of Jesus in heaven, before He was born in Bethlehem, was unsurpassed. He was the "Bright and Morning Star", and the glory of God shone upon Him. All other beauties, compared to that of Jesus, fade into insignificance. The angels are glorious in appearance, but the angels cannot be compared in beauty to the Son of God. "God's Son shines out with God's glory, and all that God's Son is and does marks him as God." (Hebrews 1:3 a, Living Bible)

Whether or not Jesus was actually a handsome man when he lived here on earth (and some speculate that he was not, based on Isaiah 53:2 b: "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him"), one thing is certain: Jesus was not beautiful to behold when he was led away to be crucified and while he hung on that rough, splintery cross! Blood, caused by the deep pricks of the crown of thorns on his brow, came rushing down his face, to combine with the blood from the wounds on his face (where his beard had been plucked out) and with the blood from the deep slashes that were visible on his back as a result from the terrible whip lashes! A stark and pitiable sight to behold – the crucified Christ!

Is it not amazing that the repentant thief, the companion of Jesus who was being crucified beside Jesus, could see past the blood and the sweat and filth and flies on Jesus body, and could believe that Jesus was Lord? He said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom!" Amazing was Jesus' selfless and yet authoritative reply: "Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise!"

There is enough evidence to make the contention that Jesus, in His resurrected form, bore in His resurrection body the marks of his humanity, and that He ascended to heaven where He continues forever to bear those marks of identification with the human race. After his resurrection, he showed his doubting disciple, Thomas, the wounds from his crucifixion that he still had in his hands and in his side. Is it not conceivable (and likely) that Jesus maintained those wounds in his body when he ascended to the right hand of his Heavenly Father, following the

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forty days after the Resurrection? I believe that Christ is immediately identifiable to the heavenly saints, among other reasons, because of the visible wounds in his resurrected body!

"In the Christian story God descends to reascend … One may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in midair, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the deathlike region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to color and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover. He and it are both colored now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colorless in the dark, he lost his color too." (C. S. Lewis; The Joyful Christian; pg. 54, 55)

Jesus is eternally identified with the human race! He forever bears the marks of his crucifixion for mankind! Jesus has permanently been 'colored' (as it were) because of his 'dive' into the depths of the 'sea' to recover the precious object of his greatest longing – lost mankind that lay at the bottom of the ocean of sin and corruption!

What makes the Incarnation so amazing? It was the Incarnation (God becoming Man, Philippians 2:4-11) that made it possible for God to save mankind, through the death of Jesus! But, the Incarnation is not the end of Jesus' identification with mankind! It is the consistent belief of the New Testament that Jesus ascended to make intercession for us. It is Christ who is at the right hand of God who indeed intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34) He always lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). He appears in the presence of God on our behalf (Hebrews 9: 24). In Him we have an advocate in the presence of God (1 John 2:1). He is the mediator who stands between man and God to bring man and God together, and He continues that mediating work in the presence of God (Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 12:24; 1 Timothy 2:1, 1 Timothy 2:5). "Jesus ascended, not to end his work for men, but to continue his work for men, that in this or in any other world he may still carryon his ministry of intercession and mediation for men … In the Ascension the manhood of Jesus was taken up into the heavenly places, and, therefore, our manhood will also be so taken up. As Denney finely says, the Ascension is the proof that manhood is destined for heaven and not for the grave, that manhood is destined, not for dissolution but for glory." (The Mind of Jesus; Barclay; pg. 320)

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CONCLUSION: How should we celebrate Christmas? By being lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise. Let the "Seven Wonders of The Incarnation" of which we have spoken today, capture your attention. Meditate upon these Wonders and let God transform your thinking! Be amazed! Be full of Wonder!

I. Be amazed that He who is so Big could become so Small!

II. Be amazed that he who is so Strong could become so Weak!

III. Be amazed that He who is so Removed could become so Near and so Personable!

IV. Be amazed that He who is so Rich could become so Poor.

V. Be amazed that He who is so Sinless could become so Close to Sinners!

VI. Be amazed that He who was so Glorified In Heaven could become so Obscure on Earth!

VII. Be amazed that He who was so Beautiful could become so Battered and Disfigured!

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As you celebrate Christmas this year, take some time to get alone with God and with God's Word – and let yourself WONDER!

"I wonder as I wander out under the sky, 
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die; 
To save lowly people like you and like I, 
I wonder as I wander out under the sky." 

Celebrate Christmas! Take time to Wonder! Take time to marvel, to admire, to be awe-struck, to be surprised, to be electrified, to be astonished! Bow at the manger and marvel at the Child! Then rise to your feet and live a transformed life! Be daily "lost in wonder, love, and praise!"

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Chapter 12

Questions

  1. Have you ever really been filled with a sense of wonder and amazement as a result of some spiritual experience?

  2. What does it mean to 'wonder'?

  3. What was the greatest of all God's mighty acts?

  4. When you contemplate the vastness of the Universe, does it seem almost "unbelievable" that the Creator of the Universe actually came to live on this tiny planet called Earth?

  5. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Jesus is God focused, God scaled-down, and yet, while it is true that He is God limited, he is nevertheless authentically God!"

  6. Do you believe, among Christians generally, that there is more emphasis upon the deity or the humanity of Jesus? Do you find it difficult to comprehend that the One, who created the world and all that is therein, actually was at one time a helpless baby, totally dependent upon a young human mother?

  7. What is meant by the 'transcendence' and the 'immanence' of God?

  8. What evidence is there that God is not an impersonal, abstract, unreachable 'entity', but that He is instead a personable, concrete, approachable, available and caring Being who desires to establish an intimate fellowship with every human being?

  9. Do you, as one individual in a world of teeming billions of human beings, really believe that at this very moment God is sharply aware of you, that He knows you perfectly and that He loves you unconditionally, and that He understands all of your personal problems, and wishes to fellowship with you personally? Why or why not? (Note Psalms 139:13-18; Jeremiah 1:4-5; John 1:47-51; Matthew 10:30; 1 Peter 5:7)

  10. Give your reaction or response to the following statements: "God loves you as if you were 'an only child'! If you would have been the only one who would have ever lived, Jesus would have died for you! That's how much He loves you!"

  11. Who actually was the Creator of this world? (Note John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)

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  12. If it is true, according to 2 Corinthians 8:9, that Jesus gave up the riches of heaven to accept the poverty of earth, for the purpose of making humans 'rich' through His life of earthly poverty, how then should true believers define and experience their life of 'richness' as children of God? When Christ promises to make those who believe in Him rich, does this mean that Christians will always be materially rich?

  13. To what extent did Jesus identify with the human race when He was here on earth? (Note Matthew 27:46; Romans 5:6-8; Philippians 2:5-8)

  14. During His time on Earth, how well known was Jesus?

  15. Tell what is meant by the statement: "Jesus was not recognized by many people as the DIVINE Son of God, because when He came to Earth Jesus stripped Himself of all of His divine prerogatives – save one, love."

  16. Why was it so amazing that the repentant thief – the companion of Jesus who was being crucified beside Jesus – would believe that Jesus was Lord and that Jesus had an unearthly Kingdom to which He was going?

  17. What evidence is there to make the contention that Jesus, in His resurrected form, bore in His resurrection body the marks of His humanity, and that He ascended to heaven where He continues forever to bear those marks of identification with the human race?

  18. Do you believe that when you meet Jesus in heaven some day, you will immediately identify Christ, among other ways, by the visible wounds on His resurrected body – wounds which He received when He was crucified for the sins of all people on Earth? Why or why not?

  19. Would it have been possible for an all-holy God to have saved a sinful race, without the Incarnation and the Death of Jesus? Why or why not?

  20. Following the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus, what heavenly activity did Jesus enter into, which activity He is still involved in? (Note Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 12:24; 1 Timothy 2:1, 1 Timothy 2:5)

  21. Share you personal reaction or response to the following statements: "In the Ascension of Jesus the manhood of Jesus was taken up into the heavenly

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    places, and, therefore, our manhood will also be so taken up. The Ascension is the proof that manhood is destined for heaven and not for the grave, that manhood is destined, not for dissolution but for glory."

When you consider the phenomenon of the Incarnation (God becoming a Human for 33 years), should not you be "lost in wonder, love, and praise?"

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How Should we Celebrate Christmas – Worship!

How Should We Celebrate Christmas? 'Worship'!

How Should We Celebrate Christmas? 'Worship'!

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CHAPTER 13

SUBJECT: "HOW SHOULD WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS? 'WORSHIP'!"

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8-15; Matthew 2:9-11

TEXT: "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." (Luke 2:20)

"On coming to the house, they (the wise men) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him." (Matthew 2:l1 a)

INTRODUCTION: Jesus is worthy for many reasons. Because of who He is and because of what He can do! He is declared, in those several Christmas-related Scriptures, to be the Saviour, the Lord, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Reconciler, the Light of Hearts, the Source of Joy and Salvation.

PROPOSITION: As one considers the various responses of the various persons surrounding the Christ Child – the shepherds, the Wise Men, Simeon, Anna-there is 'common denominator' in their response. All in their various ways responded in worship of the Babe of Bethlehem.

What was the greatest of all of God's acts? God's act of becoming a Man!

I. The Basis of Worship – Recognition Of Jesus' Identity (Luke 2:10-14)

II. The Response of Worship – Surrender to Jesus' Person (Matthew 2:11)

A. Frankincense is the gift for a priest (Jesus is priest)

B. Myrrh is the gift for one who is to die (Jesus is Savior)

C. Gold is the gift for a king (Jesus is King)

III. The Goal of Worship – Glorifying and Praising God (Luke 2:20)

IV. The Benefits of Worship – Joy and Peace In The Worshiper's Soul (Luke 2:29-30; Luke 2:37-38)

CONCLUSION:

O	come let us adore Him, 
O	come let us adore Him, 
O	come let us adore Him, 
Christ the Lord! 

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Chapter 13

SUBJECT: "How Should We Celebrate Christmas? 'Worship'!"

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8-15; Matthew 2:9-11

TEXT: "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told." (Luke 2:20)

"On coming to the house, they (the wise men) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him." (Matthew 2:11 a)

INTRODUCTION: What does it mean to worship God? To worship God is to declare God's worth. The angel declared the worth of Jesus when he declared to the shepherds: "Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11) The kings from the East followed the star to Bethlehem, and they went into the house and saw the Christ Child before whom they bowed down and worshiped. They recognized Jesus as the 'King of the Jews' (Matthew 2:2, Matthew 2:11). Simeon recognized Jesus as God's instrument of salvation, God's light from heaven as a gift, not only to Jews, but also to Gentiles (Luke 2:29-32). To Anna, the elderly prophetess, Jesus was the One whom she and all of Israel had anticipated – the long-awaited-for Messiah (Luke 2:38).

Jesus is worthy for many reasons. Because of who He is and because of what He can do! He is declared, in those several Christmas-related Scriptures, to be the Saviour, the Lord, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Reconciler, the Light of Hearts, the Source of Joy and Salvation.

It was appropriate that the shepherds, and the Wise Men from the East, and Simeon and Anna should all respond in worship of the newborn babe – the Babe of Bethlehem.

How should we celebrate Christmas? Like the shepherds, we too should (1) Witness, (2) Wonder, (3) Worship.

"Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning; 
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given; 
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing; 
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, 
O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord!" 

PROPOSITION: As one considers the various responses of the various persons surrounding the Christ Child – the shepherds, the Wise Men, Simeon, Anna – there is a 'common denominator' in their response. All in their various ways responded in worship of the Babe of Bethlehem. From these worshipers, we may learn better the meaning of true worship.

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We must look at: (1) The Basis of Worship, (2) The Response of Worship, (3) The Goal of Worship, (4) The Benefits of Worship. What was the greatest of all of God's acts? God's act of becoming a Man!

I. The Basis Of Worship – Recognition Of Jesus' Identity.

But the angels reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!" Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven." they sang, "and peace on earth for all those pleasing him." (Luke 2:10-14)

Someone rightly pointed out that all persons are incurably 'religious'. In other words, everyone everywhere worships someone or something. However, the object of one's worship determines the value of one's worship!

Why did the shepherds (in Luke 2:10-14) worship Jesus? Because God revealed to them, through the angels, that Jesus was unique and special and worthy of worship!

The basis of true worship is recognition of Jesus' identity. When people, like the shepherds, are shown who Jesus really is, they are instinctively drawn to Jesus and find themselves on their faces before Him.

The great Napoleon once said, "If Socrates would enter the room we should rise and do him honor. But if Jesus Christ came into the room we should fall down on our knees and worship Him!" (Shoe-Leather Faith; No. 138).

Said the angel to the shepherds, "Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

Why is Jesus worthy of worship? Because He is the Savior, i.e., He came to seek and to save the lost! There is no one more worthy of praise and worship than Jesus, for Jesus gives hope for the despairing, life for the dying, forgiveness for the guilty, joy for the sorrowing, friendship for the lonely. He is everything that your soul ever hoped for – the Bread of life, the Water of life, the Way of life, the Truth of life!

Jesus said, "I have come not to condemn, but to save!" "I have come that ye might have life, and might have it more abundantly!" "I have come to seek and to save the lost!"

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In announcing the birth of Jesus to Joseph, the angel said to Joseph, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)

Why is Jesus worthy of worship? Because Jesus alone provides a means by which sinful men can become reconciled to God. After the one angel announced to the shepherds that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem, "a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'" (Luke 2:13-14)

It is not the condemnation of God that rests on mankind, but it is the peace and favor of God that rests on mankind! God is for, not against, the human race! It is not strict justice, but it is loving mercy, which God is ready to offer to a lost race of sinners!

Wrote William Tyndale (1494-1536),

"Now, do you see what this means? 
All men in jail to sin, 
All men wounded by death 
all men overcome by the devil, 
- all such men are, 
neither by merit nor 
because they deserve it, 
loosed! 
made right! 
restored to life! 
saved! 
given their freedom! 
brought into God's favor! 
put in harmony with God! 
All that is great news, 
and as many as believe it, 
sing, praise, and thank God - 
well! they just can't help but be glad, 
sing, dance for joy. 

II. The Response Of Worship – Surrender To Jesus' Person (Matthew 2:11)

"Entering the house where the baby and Mary his mother were, they threw themselves down before him, worshiping. Then they opened their presents and gave him gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2:11)

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The essence of true worship is self-surrender, i.e., presentation of ourselves to God.

The wise men "bowed down and worshiped him." Each gift that was presented to Jesus, recognized the purpose of His mission, which in turn calls for a proper response to the Christ.

A. Frankincense is the gift for a priest (Jesus is Priest)

When a gift of frankincense was given to Jesus, this symbolically identified Jesus as a Priest. Priests of the Old Testament presided over the Temple sacrifices, and "it was in the Temple worship and at the Temple sacrifices that the sweet perfume of frankincense was used." (Barclay's Matthew, pg. 23)

It was the work of the Old Testament priests to act as representatives of God to man, and to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. The Old Testament priesthood was imperfect and unable to remove the guilt of sin. "But in those (Old Testament) sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." (Hebrews 10:3-4)

Christ came to be the Perfect High Priest, of which the gift of frankincense was but a symbol. "The Latin word for priest is pontifex, which means a bridge-builder. The Priest is the man who builds a bridge between man and God. That is what Jesus did. He opened the way to the presence of God; He made it possible for men to enter into the very presence of God." (Barclay's Matthew, pg. 23)

In the Old Testament the common man was barred from personal access to God. It was the High Priest's responsibility to intercede in behalf of the people. On the day of Atonement the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, the place in the Temple where it was held that God's presence dwelt. Jesus, the Perfect High Priest, became a bridge to God by which man can personally encounter God. The veil of the Temple was rent in two, symbolizing man's personal access to God.

Frankincense is the gift for a Priest. Christ came to be the Perfect High Priest, of which the gift of frankincense was but a symbol. Jesus, the perfect High Priest, became a bridge to God by which man can personally encounter God. Christ, as 'Bridge-builder' (i.e., Priest) provides a means by which the sinner can have access to God. The great' gulf of sin' has been bridged by Christ. Wrote Paul, "This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he longs for all to be

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saved and to understand this truth: That God is on one side and all the people on the other side, and Christ Jesus, himself man, is between them to bring them together, by giving his life for all mankind." (1 Timothy 2:3-5, Living Bible)

Properly to respond to Christ, is to recognize Him as my Priest, and boldly (though humbly) to come to Christ to become reconciled to Almighty God. My sins no longer need bar me from God! I no longer need feel isolated, alone, and separated from God!

If Jesus is High Priest, how should I respond to Him? As a sinner, I should cross the bridge and reestablish that sweet fellowship with Jesus which sin destroyed. I should 'come home' to Jesus!

"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, 
Calling for you and for me; 
See, on the portals He's waiting and watching, 
Watching for you and for me. 
Come home, come home, 
Ye who are weary, come home; 
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, 
Calling, O sinner, come home!" 

As a believer, I can come boldly to the throne of grace, because of my High Priest!

B. Myrrh is the gift for one who is to die (Jesus is Saviour)

In the opening account of Matthew's Gospel, the purpose of Christ's coming is defined. "She (Mary) will bear a son, and you must call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21, Barclay) Jesus is both the Perfect High Priest and the Perfect Sacrifice for sin. "And if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a burnt heifer were, when sprinkled on the unholy, sufficient to make the body pure, then how much more will the blood of Christ himself, who in his eternal spirit offered himself to God as the perfect sacrifice, purify our souls from the deeds of death, that we may serve the living God!" (Hebrews 9:13-14) "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that comes unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25) "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:12)

Christ died for the sins of the world. The gift of myrrh symbolized Christ's death. To stop with the Babe of Bethlehem, without considering the Christ of

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the Cross, is to miss the meaning of the Incarnation. Christ was born into the world to transform individuals, to make bad men good.

Myrrh is the gift for one who is to die. The gift of myrrh symbolized Christ's death, His Saviourhood.

Properly to respond to Christ means that I affirm the fact and accept the reality that Jesus has died for my sins. His death spells life for me! His suffering spells healing for me! He shed his blood in my place. This means that I cannot merit His forgiveness; I can only humbly receive it as a free gift of His grace. I am not worthy of the least of His favor, but He nevertheless accepts me and forgives me. Such love 'demands' that I give him the praise and worship of my total being!

"My sin - O the bliss of that glorious thought! 
My sin - not in part, but the whole, 
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more, 
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! 
It is well with my soul; 
It is well, it is well with my soul." 

C. Gold is the gift for a king (Jesus is King)

When a gift of gold was given to Jesus, this symbolically identified Jesus as a king, for gold is the gift for a king. The coming of a great king was a deep-seated expectation in the hearts of all Jews throughout the centuries, since the rule of David Tasker notes the spirit of anticipation that was maintained amidst the decline of Israel after David's reign. "The abuse of power led to the division of the kingdom, and so to its permanent weakening, rendering it more and more the prey of foreign powers. But often during the period of decline that followed the disruption, the Israelites looked wistfully back to the happy days of King David, and dreamed of the time when a king of David's descent would arise and establish the reign of God at Jerusalem, and manifest the sovereignty of God by bringing all other nations into subjection and bestowing great blessings upon His people." (The Nature and Purpose of the Gospels; pg. 63)

Jesus came to be King, but not the type of king that the Jews were anticipating. The Jews looked to Jesus as God's agent through whom the Jews would conquer all their enemies and enjoy an age of peace and prosperity. This expectation reached its height when the excited Jews shouted Hosanna to Christ as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The Jews expected Jesus to soon fulfill their nationalistic dreams.

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Jesus, however, came not to be a conquering king over earthly kingdoms, but He came to be the King of men's lives. He came not to shatter the Romans, but He came to die on a cross in order that the Romans might be truly transformed, as well as all the Gentiles of the world. Christ came not to destroy, but to restore. He came not to hate, but to love. Christ came to destroy man's passion and pride and then set up his rule in man's heart.

Gold is the gift for a King. Jesus is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, and as such, I must surrender my all to His kingship! I must look to Jesus as my king. Because He is my King, I must submit to His kingly reign! What is His reign? His reign is the reign of love. Therefore, to make room for King Jesus' reign in my life, is to make room for the King's love.

To make room for Jesus' love in your life means that you allow Jesus to cast out the 'demons' of hate and bitterness and resentment and jealousy.

Norman Vincent Peale tells of being invited to an old-fashioned prayer meeting and praise service. "The house was full of people. Many were sitting on the floor; some were on the stairs, even two on the grand piano. People were everywhere and all were singing old Gospel hymns – 'Jesus shall reign where'er the sun does his successive journeys run,' 'Just as I am', and many other familiar hymns. Then they prayed, holding hands as they did so. It was like an electric current flowing around the circle. Power was emanating from one to the other. Finally a man arose and walked across the floor with a slight limp. 'I had a very bad physical condition and was told I would never walk again.' he said.

'Well,' I commented, 'you're walking now. How did it happen?'

'Jesus did it', he replied.

"A beautiful woman came forward and told how she had been helped out of a street gutter in the city of Chicago, a drug addict, and sent to an institution where she received treatment. She found herself, kicked the habit, and was free at last. 'How did it happen?' I asked.

'Jesus did it' she replied.

"Then a couple stood up, arm in arm. 'You have no idea how we used to fight,' they said. 'We cursed and swore at each other. We hated each other and each of us tried to be the most devilish to the other. But now we are remarried and live happily in love and peace.

I asked,' And how did that happen?"

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'Jesus did it,' they answered." (Sermon: 'Defeat? No Way. The Word is Victory'; pg. 8, 9)

Have you made room for Jesus' kingly deliverance in your life? Have you allowed Jesus to deliver you from your personal hang-ups, from a foul temper, or from foul words, or from foul attitudes, of from foul habits? Remember, Jesus is King, and "He is able to deliver thee."

He is able to deliver thee, 
Though by sin oppressed, 
Go to Him for Rest; 
Our God is able to deliver thee." 

One man was 'making fun' of a new convert. Said the cynic to the new convert: "How do you explain the fact that Jesus turned water into wine?" Replied the new believer, "Whether Jesus turned water into wine, I do not know. But one thing I do know. When Jesus came into my heart and home, he changed my beer and wine into furniture!"

Jesus is King! Will you worship Him as your King? Will you submit to His kingly power, the kind of power that can transform your entire life? Paul was transformed! "I (Paul) used to believe that I ought to do many horrible things to the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. I imprisoned many of the saints in Jerusalem, as authorized by the High Priests; and when they were condemned to death, I cast my vote against them. I used to torture to try to make Christians everywhere curse Christ. I was so violently opposed to them that I even hounded them in distant cities in foreign lands. I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the chief priests, when one day about noon, sir, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice speaking to me in Hebrew, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are only hurting yourself' 'Who are you, sir?' I asked. "And the Lord replied, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now stand up! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about this experience and about the many other occasions when I shall appear to you. And I will protect you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am going to send you to the Gentiles to open their eyes to their true condition so that they may repent and live in the light of God instead of in Satan's darkness, so that they may receive forgiveness for their sins and God's inheritance along with all people everywhere whose sins are cleansed away, who are set apart by faith in me." (Acts 26:9-18)

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III. The Goal Of Worship – Glorifying And Praising God.

"Then the shepherds went back again to their fields and flocks, praising God for the visit of the angels, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had told them." (Luke 2:20)

What is the goal of worship? Is it to solve our human problems? Is it simply to feel good? We need to have our human problems solved, and we all like to feel good, but the goal of worship is neither of these. The goal of worship is to focus on God, not on ourselves and not on our world's problems. "The Bible is filled with praise to Eternal God. The Psalms, hymn book of the Israelitish nation, and the burst of song which appears with almost calculated regularity throughout, characterize the Word of God. Why, then, the preoccupation with man, his problems, and his world? Even our modem devotions tend to be man-centered. Surely this is but one more symptom of what Archbishop William Temple called our self-centeredness which is our original sin'." (Alive To God Through Praise; Preface; Demaray)

The object of all true worship is God – His character and His purposes. "Glory to God in the highest" was the theme of the angelic choir on that historic night long ago. And it remains the theme of heaven's angelic choirs throughout eternity. "Day and night they (the heavenly hosts) never stop saying: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.' Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'" (Revelation 4:8-11)

IV. The Benefits Of Worship – Joy And Peace In The Worshiper's Soul!

"Lord," he said, "now I can die content! For I have seen him as you promised I would. I have seen the Savior you have given to the world." (Luke 2:29-30) "She never left the Temple but stayed the night and day, worshiping God by praying and often fasting. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph and she also began thanking God and telling everyone in Jerusalem who had been awaiting the coming of the Savior that the Messiah had finally arrived." (Luke 2:37-38)

The message which the angel announced to the shepherds was a message full of joy. Said the angel, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10) When the Wise Men "saw the star, they were overjoyed." (Matthew 2:10)

Can you sense the joy that the old man Simeon must have felt when he took the Christ child into his arms? Do you remember the account? "That day a man named Simeon,

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a Jerusalem resident, was in the Temple. He was a good man, very devout, filled with the Holy Spirit and constantly expecting the Messiah to come soon. For the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen him – God's anointed King. The Holy Spirit had impelled him to go to the Temple that day; and so when Mary and Joseph arrived to present the baby Jesus to the Lord in obedience to the law, Simeon was there and took the child in his arms, praising God. 'Lord', he said, 'now I can die content! For I have seen him as you promised I would. I have seen the Savior you have given to the world. He is the Light that will shine upon the nations and He will be the glory of your people Israel!

And think of the joy and contentment that Anna, the elderly prophetess, must have felt when she first saw the Christ child! Her response to the Christ Child is recorded in Luke 2:38. "Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."

Whenever people appropriately respond in worship to the Christ, there inevitably comes a sense of joy and fulfillment and contentment. In Christ's presence there is joy forevermore!

Worship should never be a drab or monotonous routine. Rather, worship should be filled with excitement and joy – "joy that is unspeakable and full of glory!"

After he came from his prayer closet, where he worshiped his blessed Lord, John Wesley's face often shone with a glow of joy. Someone said of him, "He thought prayer to be more his business than anything else, and I have seen him come out of his closet with a serenity of face next to shining." Moses too was a "man with a shining face". When he descended Mt. Sinai, where he had been a long time alone with God, his face was radiant with the glory of God – shining with such a brilliance that the Israelites put a veil over his face!

Notes William Barclay, "It must never be forgotten that joy is one of the commonest New Testament words."

"When Dr. Farmer, organist at Harrow, pleaded with the Salvationist drummer not to hit the drum so hard, the beaming bandsman replied: 'Lor' bless you, sir, since I've been converted, I's so happy, I could burst the blooming drum.'"

Notes Donald Demaray, "One of the doxologies of the Church contains the phrase, 'Him praise with mirth!' ….It was Mauree Johnson who told of the old mountaineer who said, 'When I give thanks it happifies my soul'" (Alive To God Through Praise; Preface) If you want joy – real joy -let Jesus come into your heart! If you want joy – real joy – make Jesus the object of your worship.

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Concerning his great happiness as a worshiper of the true and living God, John Wesley wrote the following:

As a Christian I am happy in a special kind of way, inexpressibly happy. 
Happy in what? In these clear and complete convictions: 
The God who is all-powerful, all-wise, all-gracious, governor over all, loves me! 
This God who is the lover of my soul is always with me, is never absent, no! Not for a moment. 
Well! Is it any wonder I love Him too. 
There is no one in heaven but God. There is no one on earth I desire but God! 
Something else: 
He has made me like Himself; He has stamped His image on my heart. 
Now then: 
I live for Him; I do only His will; I honor Him with my body and my spirit. 
Before long, I will die and go to Him, I will die in the arms of God. 
Then! 
Good bye to sin 
Good bye to pain 
Then! There is only one thing left - to live with Him for ever! 

(Quoted in "Alive To God Through Praise"; by Donald Demaray; pg. 100, 101)

CONCLUSION:

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, 
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem! 
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels! 
Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation, 
O	sing, all ye bright hosts of heaven above! 
Glory to God, all glory in the highest! 
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning, 
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given; 
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing! 
O	come, let us adore Him, 
O	come let us adore Him, 
O	come let us adore Him, 
Christ the Lord! 

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The goal of worship is to praise and to glorify God. All persons or groups of persons surrounding the manger, find themselves praising and exalting in God and in the Good News which God revealed in Jesus Christ:

(a) The Angels - Luke 2:13-14 
(b) The Shepherds - Luke 2:20 
(c) Simeon - Luke 2:28 
(d) Anna - Luke 2:38 
(e) Wise Men - Matthew 2:11 

Jesus' worth is recognized when:

1. Like Anna, we are willing patiently to wait upon God to reveal the Christ to us (Luke 2:37-38).

2. Like the Wise Men, we are willing to search for the Christ (Matthew 2:9-10).

3. Like the Wise Men, we are willing to bow low before Christ to surrender ourselves to Christ (the most important gift we can give to Christ).

4. Like Simeon, we are able to understand and to experience the significance of Christ's universal salvation (Luke 2:28-32).

5. Like the Shepherds, we are eager to witness for Christ to others (Luke 2:17).

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CHAPTER 13

Questions

  1. What common response did the following make to Christ, when they first heard about the birth of Christ, or when they first saw Him? – ( a) The Angels – Luke 2:13-14; (b) The Shepherds – Luke 2:15-20, (c) Simeon and Anna – Luke 2:25-28, (d) Kings- Matthew 2:2, Luke 2:11.

  2. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statements: "The basis of true worship is recognition of Jesus' identity. When people, like the shepherds, are shown who Jesus really is, they are instinctively drawn to Jesus and find themselves on their faces before Him."

  3. Because of what Christ accomplished when He came to earth, what attitude does God have towards mankind, according to Luke 2:13-14?

  4. According to Matthew 2:11, what is the essence of true worship?

  5. What significance is there in each of the gifts of the Wise Men – 'Frankincense', 'Myrrh', and 'Gold'?

  6. Because Christ is your 'Priest' – i.e., your 'Bridge-Builder' – what should be your response to Him? (1 Timothy 2:3-5)

  7. Why is it impossible for a person – a sinner – to earn, to purchase, or to deserve God's salvation?

  8. Why is it impossible for Jesus to be the King of your life while, at the same time, you nurse grudges against people or hold hate and bitterness and jealousy in your heart?

  9. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statements: "We need to have our human problems solved, and we all like to feel good, but the goal of worship is neither of these. The goal of worship is to focus on God, not on ourselves and not on our world's problems." (Note Luke 2:11, Luke 2:13-14, Luke 2:20, Luke 2:28, Luke 2:38; Revelation 4:8-11)

  10. From your own personal experience, tell if you can attest to the truth of the following statements: "Whenever people appropriately respond in worship to the Christ, there inevitably comes a sense of joy and fulfillment and contentment. In Christ's presence there is joy forevermore!" (Note Luke 2:28-32, Luke 2:38; Matthew 2:10; Luke 2:10)

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