A Christmas Message For 2008
A Sermon Manuscript by Robert L. Cobb
Editor, NewsForChristians Dot Com
"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,
and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7
The story of the first Christmas is retold every year from the kitchen table to the most ornate of pulpits. Like the rest of the Bible, this story never fails to speak to individuals, the church, and the nation no matter our circumstances or condition. As we enter the 2008 Christmas season, we find ourselves in difficult economic times. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930's have people been so fearful of the monetary future of our country. As we examine the story of Christ's birth in a little different light, we find that Scripture still speaks to us in our need, even in this modern age in which we live.
It is very easy to focus on the great miracle of the Virgin Birth and the first coming of our Savior, and indeed, that event is central to the story. But, in an attempt to find spiritual food for our souls, let us look at the human condition of Joseph and Mary and all those who lived during that time. Let us focus our attention mainly on how the saints of God should handle difficult times, applying the lessons of our text to our situation today.
I. IT WAS A TIME
OF POLITICAL DIFFICULTY. (Luke 2:1-3)
Today, we find similar circumstances. We who claim to be God's people and claim to trust in Him, now find that our way of life is threatened by change. Have we really been trusting in God, or were we really trusting in the only way of life we have ever really known? God can upset the "status quo" and has done so on many occasions. World wars, natural disasters, bad leadership, depressions, and many other things have torn Christians from their beds of ease and thrusted us into a new and frightening set of circumstances. "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him..." Deut. 39:11-12
II. IT WAS
A TIME OF PERSONAL DISTRESS.
Joseph and Mary were poor. Though they were descendants of King David, the Roman occupation had ground the Jewish people to poverty. The only Jews who prospered were the ones who carried out and cooperated with the Romans' will. Joseph was a carpenter, but was most probably paid with supplies rather than money. Now his wife was great with child and there were no rooms available and most likely no money to pay for one. Mary and Joseph were without friends on this journey. Many acquaintances probably were gossiping about her pregnancy and counting the months to figure out who the "real father" was. When we consider the trials and tribulations that this godly couple endured, one is tempted to ask, "Why did God allow this to befall them?" God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and Psalm 92:5 says "O LORD, how great are thy works! [and] thy thoughts are very deep." As we negotiate our way through these times, we must remember that God never promised to save us from troubles, but to help us in our troubles.
III. IT WAS A TIME OF
The times in which we live also give proof to fulfilled prophecy. Since 1948, Israel has taken her place among the nations and is the key to the politics of our world. The European nations continue to come together as one preparing the way for the Antichrist to rule over them in the end times. The Muslims have pushed forward on the world stage, along with the Chinese and Russians. But probably the most stunning prophecy we see being fulfilled is the Church becoming more Laodicean every day! Just like in the story of the first Christmas, people go about their daily routines oblivious to the fulfillment of prophecy in their midst!
IV. IT WAS A TIME
OF PROMISED DELIVERANCE. (Luke 2:10-11)
While nothing outwardly changed in the world that day, a great event had happened. As we search the history books, the taxation of Caesar Augustus rates barely a mention. The birth of a backwoods Jewish child in the little town of Bethlehem gets no mention at all. But human life had changed that day!
And so it is today! The salvation that was made available in the First Coming of Christ is still available today. You won't see it mentioned in the New York Times or the Washington Post. You won't hear it spoken on Wall Street or Hollywood. The leaders of the world, for the most part, ignore the salvation of Christ just as they did in the First Century. There is deliverance for humanity! There is a cure for sin! There is a key to a better and more fulfilling life! It is Christ! Just as it was in Bethlehem long ago!
V. IT WAS
A TIME OF PRIVATE DELIGHT. (Luke 2:19)
CONCLUSION: My point in bringing this message is to compare the time of the first Christmas with today. We are humans no different than those in that day. God is working in lives today just as yesterday. We can see His fingerprints on the world stage, moving and working His will. We should not expect to get a "free pass" from the trials and tribulations of the future. God has a plan for each of us, but that plan will be carried out with history as a backdrop. We will not be saved "out of" recession, depression, war, or famine. We may be called upon to carry out His work in the midst of it, as did Joseph and Mary in Old Bethlehem!
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