Dec 23, 2019
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Here we are at the last week of Advent. Children wait expectantly to open the packages under the tree. Moms and Dads scurry around for those last-minute gifts and the trimmings for the Christmas feast at the family table. Everyone vies for their favorite Christmas movies on one of the six-thousand cable channels. At least it seems there are that many sometimes. The countdown to Christmas has almost finished.
But what do we expect when the countdown reaches zero?
Too often, the climax we expect feels like a letdown. When the paper and empty boxes pile up in the corner, the plates find themselves in the sink, and the leftovers fill the refrigerator, we sigh and ask, "Is that it? All that work and fuss for this?"
In just a few short hours, it's all a memory and usually a relatively short one at that. We build our hopes around what happens around a Christmas tree or a Christmas dinner and find that what happens there just doesn't last. The ribbons and bows and shiny paper don't bring the joy we thought it would in the end. The perfect present we spent days and weeks searching out doesn't carry the reaction we thought it would. The feast doesn't create the festival we expected.
There is a reason why, but most won't agree. You see, we miss the point. We celebrate Christmas, but forget to invite the person we celebrate. We forget to leave a seat for the namesake of the holiday. We welcome all our friends but put an "X" in place of the most important guest of the season. Even those who call themselves Christian miss this essential ingredient in celebrating this holy day. We forget to leave a place for him as we prepare the schedule crammed with fun things to bring special memories for the future.
Matthew records his birth this way:
The birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. His mother Mary had been promised to Joseph in marriage. But before they were married, Mary realized that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Her husband, Joseph, was an honorable man and did not want to disgrace her publicly. So he decided to break the marriage agreement with her secretly.
Joseph had this in mind when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said to him, "Joseph, descendant of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus [He Saves], because he will save his people from their sins." All this happened so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet came true: "The virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel," which means "God is with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him to do. He took Mary to be his wife. He did not have marital relations with her before she gave birth to a son. Joseph named the child Jesus.
His short journey with us isn't one most would want. He began his life marked as an illegitimate son of Mary, born in a cave with a stone bed filled with straw as the only place to lay his tiny head. He knew poverty. Most scholars think his earthly dad died shortly after his temple experience at the age of twelve. He became the breadwinner for his family in a village whose residents often operated on the wrong side of the law. And most of those villagers thought he was an illegitimate child, not the son of holy God they worshipped.
People expected the Messiah. The prayed for him to come to rescue them from the tyranny of Rome. They longed for relief from their long trial of oppression at the hand of godless nations after returning to Jerusalem from their defeat and exile.
But surely God would not send his Messiah through a poor peasant from Nazareth. Surely God would choose the wife of the chief priest or some other notable character in the temple to raise his Messiah. He wouldn't possibly have some peasant girl from the lowest of towns on the dark side of the nation give birth to the savior of Israel.
For everyone who knew him growing up, Jesus didn't seem to be anyone special. But he knew, Mary knew, Joseph knew that he would redeem Israel one day. He would bring freedom to the captives. They didn't understand how. They didn't realize it would mean his death on the cross, and he brought freedom from the penalty of sin, not freedom from political oppression.
But we know. We look back on two thousand years of history and see what God did through his Son, Jesus. We know the changes he made to the world. We recognize the incredible transformation his presence in one's life brings. Still, we leave him out of our celebrations at this special time of year.
We stay absorbed in the world's pleasures and what the world offers instead of the real treasure Jesus offers. We remove his name from Christmas, replace it with an X, or just call it the holiday season, so no one gets offended. Then wonder why there is no satisfaction when we get up from the feast or unwrap the last present.
I invite you in the last days before Christmas to stop and meditate on him. Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, our Savior is the namesake of these holy days. He is the reason we celebrate. Be careful preparing the festivities for family and friends that you leave a place for him in your celebrations. Make him the centerpiece in all you do.
If you will, you will find this holiday most enjoyable. If Jesus is in the center of your celebration, this will be one of the best Christmases you've ever had regardless of your outward circumstances. Because he never fails, and he never leaves us alone.
Merry Christmas, and thanks for letting me share with you this past year.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.