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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Thoughts...

Sometimes, if we start at the end of things and work backwards, we see things from a different perspective--especially since the end is, well, the end, and it's often a long way off. But if you can start at the end and look back, you often see things you don't when you start at the beginning. The Bible lets us do this. We can start at the end and go backwards.

So what happens if we do that with Christmas?

Well, the first thing we see is the point of Christmas. If you look at Revelation 21, you find these words (this is sort of the introduction to forever):

Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

The rest of the material continues in the same vein, with God offering wonderful statements that detail what it will be like to be with Him and the Lord Jesus forever--the first few verses serve as a summary of the two chapters.

The book closes with a trip back to the present and a promise and warning: The promise that YOU can participate in this wonderful future simply by taking the water of life--and an invitation for you personally to do that:

Rev. 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

The point is, this is for YOU. 

There's also a couple of warnings:

1. God wants you "IN," but there's a way to NOT get in: Reject the Lord and don't let Him change your life.

Rev. 22:12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments (that is, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and love one another, see 1 John 3:23), that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

2. Change what the book of Revelation says, and deny its truths:
Rev. 22:18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 

So that's the point, the purpose of Christmas. It's at the end. 

So we might say the point of Christmas is YOU. Jesus came for YOU, to bring you to glory ("glory" is what we just read about):

Hebrews 2:10
10 For it was fitting for Him[God] , for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons [and daughters] to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

So God meant for you to inherit "all things," along with His "one and only," Jesus Christ (see Revelation 21:7. THAT is what Christmas is--God's amazing gift to you. God, who loves you more than any tongue can tell, wants YOU to have Christmas like you've never imagined, where literally everything is yours. All the presents under the tree. Every single one, with your name on it.

But that's not all...("But wait! There's more!)

If you only look at what God wants for you, you miss the greatest act of love and the greatest miracle the world has ever seen, for the coming of Jesus Christ is just that: He came because Christmas is about YOU.

John 3:16 puts it like this:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Greek, monogenes, "unique, one of a kind.") so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life...

The word "gave" includes all the things that God did to bring Jesus Christ into the world (for His coming was planned long ago, in the "days of eternity"), which particularly involves what we call the "Incarnation." 
The incarnation is a word used to define what God did when He became human. This is by far the greatest miracle, the greatest act of love in the universe, in time or space. The infinite becomes the finite. The Almighty becomes the powerless. The eternal becomes a man, who dies. The all-present compresses Himself into one place, although He filled heaven and earth. The all-knowing One becomes a man with man's limitations of intelligence.
The Sovereign of the universe lets Himself be arrested by wicked men, beaten and murdered.

Why? YOU. That's why. He set Himself from before time and space to bring YOU to glory, and this was the path. 

In John 1:1-3, we read:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

This "Word" of whom John speaks is Jesus, before He became human, but human He did become:
John 1:14:
"And the Word became flesh [the stuff of humankind] and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten [monogenous, the unique One] of the Father, full of grace and truth."

So in a very real sense, in order to bring YOU to glory, God became you. 

And that is the message of Christmas. "God became you, in order to bring you to glory." 

So when you pass by a nativity scene this Christmas, think of the God who became man, so that you could spend forever with Him. 

YOU were the reason. YOU.

Now of course, the fact is that you have to choose Him, just as He chose to give Himself for you. 
It's like a Christmas present--it's got your name on it, but unless you take it from under the tree, unwrap it, and make it yours, it just sits there, waiting. 
So you must pick up the present (say it's a watch), put it on, and make it your own.  
Same with God. You must choose Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, just as so very long ago he chose to come for you, to bring you to glory. 
Now it's your turn. Choose Him.