Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
I thought about what to do for a Christmas Eve message. I thought about the angels, I thought about the baby in the manger, I thought about the busyness of the season, and carols and hot apple cider and hayrides in the snow - and my mind kept going back, back to Israel, its land and its people at the time of Christmas.
Out of that four simple thoughts came to my mind that I wanted to share. They have to do with Christmas, and not. They are assumptions that the people back then so long ago held - assumptions that we still hold to this day - assumptions that made them miss out on God's blessings.
God's promises are outdated and have no relevance to my life
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
These words were written by Isaiah the prophet 740 years before Christmas Eve. By that time many had given up the careful watch for the Messiah. The people wanted Him, as a way to relieve the stress of Rome, but they were so focused on a military leader that they missed child who would conquer by dying.
It's now been over 2000 years since Christmas Eve - since that same promised Messiah spoke these words:
John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Today when the world seems to press in around us and all we want is relief - we lose sight of the promises Jesus made to us, that trouble will come, but we need to take heart because He has overcome our world.
When God is doing something He makes a big deal of it
Christmas Eve was very quiet in Israel - and even in Bethlehem. Everyone slept peacefully - even the religious leaders. "When Messiah comes there will be a big deal, He is, after all, the Messiah!" But the coming of Messiah Jesus happened very quietly that night - God moved in the stillness, not in the noise.
Sometimes we think that for God to move in our lives there must be fanfare and lots of the kind of fruit we want to see and that everyone will see what God is doing.
Matthew 6:2-4 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
God doesn't have to hold a press conference to announce He's doing things through you. Let Him use you in the quiet simple ways of love
That brings me to assumption 3
You have to be pretty smart to understand God
God did hold a press conference of sorts on Christmas Eve. It wasn't in a studio or on the steps of the temple - it was out in a dirty, cold, rocky field outside Bethlehem. God didn't invite Peter Jennings or Dan Rather, He didn't put up the major theologians of the day - He sent some angels to bring the best news anyone could ever give - and addressed it to some shepherds - the "low lives" of their day.
Don't let the seduction of knowledge cloud out simple wisdom.
Matthew 11:25-26 At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
Be a little child, be a shepherd when it comes to knowing God. Don't try to figure Him out, just behold Him in awe and reverence.
Good things come easy
When something is right and God is in it, we think that absolutely everything will fall into place - circumstances will change, people will act like the soldier in "Star Wars" under the spell of Obie Wan Kanobe. And when that doesn't happen we think God must not be guiding.
Mary and Joseph could have thought that too. The angel told them they were doing the right thing - but circumstances might have shouted the opposite. Mary was pregnant out of wedlock, they were forced to leave home and travel by some government decree when Mary was about to give birth, and then they couldn't even find a place to stay.
On the surface it looked hopeless - like this young couple had made some serious mistakes. But their hearts were bound to God - and who was it behind the scenes that had actually orchestrated it all? God Himself.
You've heard it before but it is worth repeating:
Romans 8:28-29 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Despite how bad your circumstances may seem, despite how many times you think you must have heard God wrong - trust that if you love Him, He will work it out - not just passably but for good.
So don't let this be a Christmas where our past assumptions guide our present view of God working in our land, in our lives, and in our hearts - but let's let Him work a new peace, hope, and joy in us this Christmas.