The Amazing Gift at the Heart of Christmas

Our families, if we are fortunate enough to have them, are a special part of our celebrations at this time of year. We look forward to gathering together to catch up with those we rarely see. We enjoy our Christmas dinner and  exchanging presents. It’s a time when we can all get caught up in the hype that starts months before in September. Our supermarkets tempt us with cut price offers of boxes of sweets, biscuits and chocolates. Christmas puddings, cakes and mince pies make their appearance by early October! We look forward to giving and receiving gifts.

How many people in our increasingly Godless and materialistic  society will spare a thought for the birth of Jesus, the Christ (Messiah), in Bethlehem? Almighty God, in His love for humankind, sent us all a marvellous present, the gift of His Only Son, the pathway to salvation for those who trust in Jesus and in God, his Father.

The story is simple. God chose Mary, a virgin, to be the mother of His beloved Son. The angel Gabriel was sent to tell Mary. “ And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary,  for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” … The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.” (Luke 1:30-33,35)

And so Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of his ancestor King David, as foretold by the prophet Micah so many years before. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel …” (Micah 5:2)

Why was the Son of the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, born in such poor and humble surroundings? This humble birth sends an amazing message to us all. The All Powerful God chose to give us the gift of His Only Beloved Son Jesus, our Saviour and King, born as one of us, to reveal God’s character and His plan of salvation. Jesus told  his disciple Philip “… he who has seen me has seen the Father …” (John 14:9)

The baby born in Bethlehem resisted sin all his life. Jesus lived a perfect sinless life  He is our Saviour and High Priest who, by his death, is the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all who would try to follow his example. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that “… we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

So, as we look forward to Christmas, we must always remember why Jesus was born and give our grateful thanks to God for His Gift, Jesus the Saviour, who is described by the apostle Paul as “God’s unspeakable gift.” (2 Corinthians 2:15)

Quotes ESV

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The King born in a Manger

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.

The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,

The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.”

Many of us will remember singing this carol at school Nativity performances.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born in Bethlehem. Mary, a virgin, was chosen by God (Luke 1:26-33) to be his Mother, (verse 32, “and behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus”). Mary wrapped Jesus in cloths and laid Him in an animal feeding trough, a manger. (Luke 2:7)

As soon as Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden, God had promised that He would provide a Saviour who would triumph over sin and death. (Genesis 3:15) Many centuries later the prophet Micah foretold the birth of Christ. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel …” (Micah 5:2) This prophecy was fulfilled when Mary and Joseph, Mary’s future husband, had to travel to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus ordered that all the Roman world should be registered. (Luke 2:1) And so Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was crowded when Mary and Joseph arrived. There was no room at the inn. Tradition presumes that the inn was a hotel. The Greek word translated “inn” (kataluma) could be translated “guest room”. It may be that Jesus may not have been born in a stable but in a room beneath a house that was a night time shelter for the owner’s animals. Luke tells us that angels told shepherds of His birth and they ran to find him. “And the angel said to them, for unto you is born this day in the city of David (Bethlehem) a Saviour who is Christ the Lord … you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12)

Why was the Son of the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, born in such poor and humble surroundings? This humble birth sends an amazing message to us all. The All Powerful God chose to send His Only Son Jesus, our Saviour and King, as one of us, to reveal God’s character and His plan of salvation. Jesus told Philip “… he who has seen me has seen the Father …” (John 14:9)

God has promised all who truly believe that Jesus was born to be our Saviour that He will send Jesus to this earth again. This time He will come, not as Son of Man, but as the triumphant Son of God. He will be the immortal king who will set up His Father’s everlasting Kingdom on earth and reign in righteousness. Those who have believed and followed the laws of God and the teaching of His Beloved Son will be granted everlasting life.

The Ammanford Christadelphians warmly invite everyone to join us at 6pm on Sunday 23rd December to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with a special celebration entitled, “Follow the Star”.

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It’s Christmas Countdown!

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Black Friday is already behind us. Ahead lies the anticipation of Christmas, with excitement, and perhaps panic and sheer hard work for those who have to pull it all together. It’s just what we Britons do, spurred on by the media, many people over indulge in food and drink and generally having a good time.

Perhaps this assessment of the festivities is a little cynical. After all, beneath the tinsel and tack there is much charity and goodwill. There is, too, for some, the real reason for Christmas – remembering the Birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago. Nativity plays familiarise us with that Bible message. Seasonal services in church and chapel remind us that Jesus is real, his existence a fact of history.

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Many passages from the Gospels (Good News) of Matthew and Luke ring out clearly with authority and excitement. Hear the Angel Gabriel’s message to Mary “….the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – The Son of God”. Luke 1:35

Nine months later an angel pays a night time visit to Bethlehem’s hill country bathing shepherds and their flocks with the light of God’s glory.

His message “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord”

”… and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God …”Luke 2: 11&13.

Why such rejoicing for a baby? Decades later the apostle Paul writes “… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” 1 Tim 1: 15. Jesus did this by living a sinless life, dying painfully and then being raised to immortal life “Consequently He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him since he always lives to make intercession for them”. Hebrews 7:25.

Have you ever noticed that nowhere in the Bible are believers told to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but they are commanded to remember his death? “Christ… will appear a second time…to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” Hebrews 9:28

Now that is something to celebrate!

(Quotes from English Standard Bible, ESV)

*To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk. Our next public meeting will be held at 6pm on Sunday, in our hall, Foundry Road, Ammanford. All are welcome to attend!

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