7 Lessons we can draw from the Christmas Story | Holiday special 4

From what we have observed, Christmas is one of the best times in our lives that we celebrate. There are numerous reasons why we celebrate the Christmas story, knowing first and foremost Christmas is about Jesus Christ!

What we can glean from the Bible are important truths that help us take shape an even greater story. It is hoped that these guide you into this holiday season!

1. God’s Forgiveness is available to all

We see in Isaiah 11:1-2, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”

We hear in the song, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” that “God and sinners reconciled.” This is the amazing truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He provides Salvation and eternal life, and this comes from the benefit of forgiveness of sins. We see the ministry of reconciliation that God came in the form of man, Jesus Christ, to “Save His People from sin.” What an awesome thing we have in Christ!

2. God is in control of leadership of the world

Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Our God, who has made the earth, stars, universe, heavens, and more is our commanding leader overall! Peace is within the Prince of Peace, and He alone provides rest for our souls. God regards our lowliness as well, and provides us forgiveness. He is our Great Shepherd (Psalm 23).

3. Christ Jesus is our Shepherd

Psalm 23 describes Our Lord is Our Shepherd. Ezekiel 34:15, “I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.”

Christ Jesus came to impute upon us peace, and lead and guide us through Life more abundantly. The hope of eternal life can be for all people, and we do hope we can spread it evermore to so many people.

He provides us our daily provisions, He gives us rest for our souls (as we noted above), He helps us by delivering us from evil and death, and gives us goodness and mercy forevermore.

4. God grants peace as we wait upon Him

Just as prophesied in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Then, we see powerful truth in Romans 16:20, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Also note 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.”

When we reflect upon God, we allow His Spirit to speak to us. We reflect on the wonder of God, our Creator, and all the beautiful things He has created! It’s truly amazing.

5. God can powerfully perform the impossible

Matthew 19:26 says, “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

God really can do the impossible, for with Him, all things are possible. He can help in almost any situation, save us from trouble, and help improve our lives. This is something we must truly believe, for He can truly help us. Since He can help us, we know we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

6. God is our utmost provider

God provided the Passover lamb for us, who was born in to this world, the redeemer, Jesus Christ: “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:8).

This is proven in Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

7. Heaven is going to be so awesome

Knowing we had this great and merciful Savior from Heaven come, we better believe so many great things are awaiting us for our eternal destiny in Heaven!

John 14:1-3 tells us the first magnificent truth, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told* you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 then tells us that we cannot imagine the awesomeness, but must know that it is so overwhelmingly awesome… “But as it is written*, Eye hath not seen, nor* ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Now, we discover one of the most awesome things in Revelation 21:3-4, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

We will have new bodies eventually… 1 Corinthians 15:40 says, “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” Then also in 1 Corinthians 15:54, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

What will it look like (kind of)… Revelation 21:18-23, “And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

Overall, Salvation, eternal life, Christ Jesus coming, and all great things that pertain to life and godliness – How Awesome!

The prophet known as Joel knew revival was coming

Joel said he was the son of Pethuel. Otherwise, he was a native to Jerusalem. He was a pious, godly, courageous preacher who came in the hour of opportunity to deliver a powerful Message from Yahweh to His People. He may have been a priest. His preaching centered generally on repentance of God’s People! Joel is known as The Prophet of Revival or Pentecost. The key Scripture is Joel 2:28-32, because a prophecy is given that God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh…to which, we see come in Acts 2 – and I’m glad for this, because it is because of this whole deal that we have His Spirit within us, and are able to also minister His Spirit unto others.

The burden of Joel’s Message is a certain fearful time of judgment which he mentions five times in three chapters – and refers to “the Day of the Lord.” The Key Verse helps explain it, “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand…” This day is yet to come and will begin with the removal of the Church, as the Lord will judge and interfere in the course of world politics. Joel points out God’s dealing with people as the outcome of their own spiritual condition. Genuine repentance is at the foundation of real revivals, and this was Joel’s burden as he labored to produce revival. He cries out in 2:13, “Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” A rent heart is followed by a rent veil, and access to God and Pentecostal Blessing follow true repentance.

Joel’s message contains the greatest description in literature of a locust devastation, but it also points out the invasion of locusts was only a type of another horrible invasion which was in swarms of heathen invasion in that day and will be further fulfilled in the last days or the days to come. He is scared for what may happen. His heart holds dear the people and his mind is in fear.

The Apostle Peter uses the passage Joel 2:28-32 as a powerful productive sermon on “The Day of Pentecost,” which was fulfilled gloriously in the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon those exercising true repentance and faith unto Salvation. We see Peter’s Message in Acts 2:16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

The instructions and background of this book

There is a plague, to begin with, that many older people don’t remember. The whole countryside is bare, and Joel tells the people to tell the story of this to their children and grandchildren. Those that have lived greedily are punished, and they will no longer be drunk with wine, because the vineyards have been destroyed. The people are mourning in misery, especially because of the destruction and that the crops have fallen into ruin. Joel reveals the plague was no accident, but that it is a disaster/judgment from God, to which, the priests must now lead the nation in repentance.

Joel now sees a picture of the swarms coming and compares them to an enemy army. The locusts quickly consume farmlands and the people are helpless. The locusts turn toward Jerusalem in attack, and they swarm the cities and through houses. The clouds of insects brought darkness and made it clear that God’s judgment has come. God sent the judgment so that people would come to a genuine repentance. In repenting, God would restore their vineyards, and they will be able to worship Him again with their offerings. A trumpet is blown calling the people to the Temple to fast and mourn. God then accepts the people’s repentance and promises removal of locusts. Good harvests are to follow and will compensate for all losses. This should bring people into the knowledge of God better, and give people hope for a better future.

People naturally come to God in calamity and then turn away when things are great. Joel hopes that one day God will give His Spirit to each person, not just a few that do His tasks or other purposes and special occasions. This locust plague is only a picture of the last great judgment awaiting the people, to which, believers will be saved but sinners perish. Joel then pictures enemy nations gathering for a final attack to Jerusalem, but these nations don’t know that God brought them together, and He is going to execute judgment upon them for their crimes against Judah. The nations are guilty, wickedness is great, and therefore, they must die. The time of its occurrence is also the time of deliverance of Jerusalem, to which God protects His People.

His prophecy of restoration to Israel

Joel 3:16-17, “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.”

The Day of Darkness

Joel pictures the swarms of locusts as a person sees them in Jerusalem, and compares them to an enemy army. The swarms are so thick that they look like black clouds as they sweep over the mountains and farmlands. It appears that the swarm comes quickly like an uncontrollable bushfire and devours farmlands to barrenness. The locusts turn their sights to Jerusalem, attacking them in a cloud so thick that it blots out the sun and demonstrates to people that God’s judgment is upon them. This day was a day of darkness upon the people due to so much swarm of locusts.

Lessons Joel tries to express to all people

  1. Trials and other issues help to turn us back to God and prepare our minds to hear Him.
  2. Judgment day can mean either fear or glory depending on the attitude of our hearts.
  3. National calamities call for a nationwide prayer and repentance.
  4. God has blessings for those that yield their heart unto Him!
  5. You can either abide in Him or abide in the world – and either one will have to be the choice and not both. We are called to abide in Him only, for this will bring true repentance of heart. God knows us very well and understands the things that we do. He hopes that we will realize it and repent of our wrong.

God’s forgiveness is real – Hosea the prophet

The prominent lesson we learn from Hosea is that God will do the same for every sinner, backslider, Jew, or Gentile, who will repent and return, as He has said He would do for Israel. Hosea is called the Suffering Love Prophet. (The text says he’s the Prophet of Suffering Love.) We find Hosea in the New Testament in Romans 9:25 and it relates to us what the Lord will do for the backslider – “As he saith also in “Osee” I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.” The Kings that were on the scene during Hosea’s writing were Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Jeroboam.

All of his writing reflects unfaithful Israel, and he is called upon by God to “live his prophecy.” Hosea was a young man and received a special endowment of soul that caused him to have a keen sensation of God. His sensitive soul gave him a decided advantage of experiencing the deeper mysteries of Grace over other messengers. He was profoundly influenced by Amos, and loved the land, his neighbors, and his beloved Yahweh! He commonly wrote from experience, as well as inspiration.

Gomer, his unfaithful wife, which bore him bastard children, became a parable to the nation of its Spiritual Adultery in forsaking Jehovah and falling down before false gods. She was the daughter of Diblaim, had no way of knowing or understanding the mighty love of Hosea, and many have said this must be an Allegory, however, it’s the truth. Hosea was willing to give his life to be a Message for God to God’s People.

Hosea was called the Prophet of Suffering Love, because he was a broken-hearted man. He was a sufferer, because his wife was unfaithful, but he was faithful. He did his best in the relationship, but his wife decided in her unfaithfulness to have bastard children – which forgone his ability to create heirs.

He lived out the Message as he received Gomer, his wife, back repeatedly, until finally he found her on the slave block in the market, and once more, as Jesus would do, forgave her. He bought her back so she could return to home. Hosea grieves over his love for Gomer; in this we see that God is desperately in love also and keeps sobbing from His heart, as does Hosea, while they continue to repeat their love story and call from their heart, “Come back!” Hosea was of the tribe of Issachar, which would give him the gift of knowing the times and seasons before the normal man; therefore, people were slow to hear, as was the case with the prophecies of Amos.

This is a book of repentance, as backsliders are invited to return to God or suffer the consequences of being cut off. The Lord speaks to Israel through the domestic troubles of the Prophet. Hosea was commanded to take a wife of whoredoms to picture the condition of Israel when God called and married her, bringing her into a covenant relationship with His People.

After having children by him, Hosea’s wife, Gomer, left him to go after old lovers. He was then commanded to buy her back as his wife again, and then to make a contract that she would never do it again. The experience was used to teach Israel that she must now return to God, after forsaking His covenant and going after other gods; He would marry her again and enter into an eternal covenant relationship with her!

The theme could be summed up by two words: “Lo-ammi,” meaning “not my people.” 1:9, “Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God;” and “Ammi,” meaning “My People.” 2:1, “Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ru-ha-mah.” Therefore, she bore one daughter and two sons. The Prophetical Message would concern the restoration of Israel to God, 2:14-23, after the many days of 3:4-5, at which time they will be His eternal people. The Message in 6:1-3 concerns the return of Israel to God by repentance and that in 13:14 He will ransom them. In 14:3-9 God is redeeming them eternally.

The underlying purpose overall is to record and predict Israel’s backslidings from God for many days, during which time they were to be scattered among the nations, and be without a King, a prince, sacrifice, image, Ephod, and Teraphim (1:9; 3:4-5); to reveal the final and eternal restoration of Israel; and to assure them of God’s forgiveness and eternal blessing as seen in the above Scriptures 6:1-3 and 14:3-9.

OVERALL LESSON: We are faithless when we sin, because sin is contagious and a trouble for our soul. Sin can destroy one’s spirit and hurt one’s soul, so it is upon genuine repentance that would ensure ourselves of His full forgiveness. However, God loves us nonetheless, whether we sin or not, for there is nothing greater than God’s love. Repentance is necessary for some, as it heals and delivers them. People should aim, however, to lead sinless lives, because it will always bring more peace and joy.

Jesus heals, teaches on forgiveness, then talks about who the greatest is in the Kingdom of Heaven (Journeys 35-36)

Jesus is journeying from a “high mountain” to the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi as we read in Mark 9:14-29; Matthew 17:14-21; Luke 9:37-43. While the faith of the three Disciples was strengthened while on the mountain (Transfiguration), the faith of the other nine who were on the plain below was failing. They were not able to cure a boy who suffered from sudden fits that were uncontrollable.

After the experience on the mountain, Jesus felt frustrated of working in the midst of so much failure. However, He did not despise the uncertain faith of the boy’s father, to which He quickly healed the boy.

The reason the Disciples had failed was their lack of faith. What they needed was not a large amount of faith necessarily; however, they needed the right kind of faith. They needed a faith that relied upon the unlimited Power of God that was expressed through sincere prayers

What we can learn here: We must not hesitate to bring our children to Christ, but we must not hesitate also to have faith. We have to trust in His Power, for it can overrule satan’s power. We must always rely upon the unlimited Power of God through our prayer unto Him, so that He can work in the way that is necessary.

Jesus paid temple tax

We are reading now in Matthew 17:24-27, where Jesus journeyed from Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum. The annual temple tax was a half-shekel per person, according to Exodus 30:11-16.

Jesus was staying at Peter’s house in Capernaum, when Jewish officials came to collect the annual temple tax. Jesus told Peter and the Disciples that they did not need to pay the temple tax any longer, for now that He had come, the Temple at Jerusalem lost importance. God dwelt in the new “Temple.” They were now God’s People, and just as a king does not collect taxes from family, neither does God collect from His Family! The Jewish officials did not understand this; therefore, rather than create a misunderstanding (and further issues), Jesus pays the tax.

Jesus teaches here: We must sometimes deny our worldly interests rather than giving offense to His Will. This tells us again to deny ourselves so that we can acknowledge His Kingdom and His Will. Instead of giving our money up to the world continually, we need to submit it to the Kingdom of God and support the continuation of it! Nonetheless, this does not tell us to avoid paying taxes, but rather, we need to keep to that duty to avoid troubles and penalties.

Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

Now, we turn to these Scripture: Mark 9:33-37; Matthew 18:1-5; Luke 9:46-48; John 13:3-17. The Twelve contest as to who shall be the greatest under the Messiah’s Reign. Jesus set a little child in the midst of them and declared that His subjects must be childlike.

The Disciples argued amongst themselves of who is most important in His Kingdom. Jesus reproved them and explained that the way to spiritual greatness is through choosing the lowest place and serving others. To enter into the Kingdom of God, people must humbly accept that they have no more status than a child does. Receiving Christ does not have to do with power or prestige; however, those who receive it should receive it as they would a small child.

What can we learn here? Many people speak of privileges, glory, power, etc., but unless we are all willing to become like small children, they could not enter His Kingdom. Children do not desire authority, regard outward appearances, are free from malice, are teachable, and are completely dependent (willingly) upon their parents. Therefore, those of lowly mindsets are sure to receive God’s Kingdom, and with joy nonetheless!

Then John is corrected…!!

We are now going to read in Mark 9:38-50; Matthew 18:6-14; Luke 9:49-50. If people desire to be His Disciples, they should not despise those of weak or insignificant dispositions. They should also take away things that cause them to follow their own desires instead of submitting to Jesus, because foul desires prevent people from receiving Jesus as they only lead people to hell. God will test and cleanse the Disciples, unless they want to be useful for Him in leading people to Jesus. They are instructed to cease from quarrelling and make sure that they are pure in heart. Jesus’ Disciples should have a loving concern for the weak, the helpless, and the lost. No one should have to miss His Salvation!

What does He teach? Those that want to be His Disciples must humble themselves to help others, must help Jesus in spreading the Gospel of Salvation, and cease from anything that does not bring glory unto Him.

70 * 7: Teaching on forgiveness

We now go to Matthew 18:15-35 where Jesus taught on forgiveness. Jesus teaches the Disciples of forgiveness. The Disciples of Jesus should be willing to forgive fellow believers that sin against them; however, they should also be concerned that wrongdoers recognize their sin and turn from it.

In each case of forgiveness, a believer should go to the wrongdoer privately and point out the trouble so that the person might be spiritually helped. If it fails, two or three others should be called upon to help; first to be sure that the offender is guilty, and second to appeal for reconciliation. If this also fails, the entire community of believers should appeal to the wrongdoer. If there is still no change, believer should excommunicate the offender from the fellowship, nonetheless still desiring the person’s repentance and restoration.

God has given each of His People the responsibility to forgive and deal with these cases. If they are confident their actions carry His Authority, they would not act hastily or out of a personal preconception. If they pray about the matter, they will receive His guidance and help. Peter then asks how many times to forgive someone until they take severe action against the offender.

Jesus replied that not seven times per Peter’s suggestion, but seventy times seven (meaning unlimited). Believers do not take severe action as an alternative to forgiveness or out of spite, but rather, as a concern for the offenders’ spiritual good. It does not matter how many times people do them wrong, they should forgive them.

To illustrate further, Jesus tells the story of a king that forgave a servant of a huge debt; however, the servant then refused to forgive a fellow servant of a small debt. When the king heard of that behavior, he withdrew his forgiveness. The lesson here is that God will not forgive people that do not forgive others.

How we should learn this: We should follow all of Jesus’ teachings here on forgiveness for they are important for everyone. We must forgive others for the wrong they have done to us so that Father can forgive us for what we have done wrong. It is important to forgive people no matter how many times we are done wrong, because this is what God would do for us! We should be gracious as He is!

Jesus’ followers expected to give up all when they follow Him

Jesus is talking about the means of giving up things in order to follow Him, as we read now in Matthew 8:19-22; Luke 9:57-62. Three men come to Jesus, asking to be Disciples, to which, they did not realize the sacrifices they would have to make in following Him. The first one was told to think seriously about his intentions, because following Him would bring hardship physically including discomfort. The second person was warned that responsibilities to Jesus should come before worldly ones. Those that are spiritually dead, that is, those who are only interested in this life, can look after everyday life.

However, the Disciples of Jesus have to attend to the more important business of the Kingdom of God. The third man was warned that Jesus’ Disciples must give themselves to Him completely, because there is no place for those whose real interests are elsewhere.

Jesus teaches: As Jesus taught in the Parables of the Kingdom of God, one must be willing to leave all He has behind for the Kingdom of God. If one is unwilling to do so, they cannot be His Disciple. If a person’s interests are elsewhere, they cannot focus properly on doing the Lord’s Will.

Even if people try to convince us to perform miracles just to make themselves look good, attract popularity, etc., we should avoid doing so, because we are trying to point to God, not to ourselves. This is what Jesus was symbolizing is that it isn’t a matter of trying to prove who He is, but that He would let people believe as they wanted to so that He could focus on doing the Will of the Father!