Merry Reality

December 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Salvation | 1 Comment
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Truth Over Tradition

“Watch out;” “don’t pout;” “don’t cry.” Apparently, Santa is big on works-righteousness. He’s all about “don’t, don’t, don’t.”

Jesus is all about “done, done, done” (John 19:30). He did all the good works we failed to do (Matthew 3:15), cancelled out our naughty list on His Cross (Colossians 2:14), and will one day personally wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:3-4). He doesn’t save us on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His mercy (Titus 3:5).

Majesty Over Magic

Santa supposedly sees you when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake. But the best he can do is watch.

Jesus is omniscient and omnipresent (II Chronicles 16:9; Jeremiah 23:23-24). He knows what you are thinking and what’s on your heart (I Samuel 16:7). Plus He can protect you from harm (Psalm 23:4).

Faith Over Fantasy

Santa supposedly wants you to be good for goodness’s sake.

Jesus knows that you are incapable of being good (Isaiah 64:6) without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and that “goodness” isn’t an entity which holds you accountable. He wants to help you to do good for the glory of God, your Maker and Redeemer (I Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 5:16).

Promise Over Pretense

Santa knows if you’ve bad or good, and apparently he is intending to reward you accordingly.

Jesus knows you haven’t been good enough to deserve any presents (Romans 3:10-11), but He loves you anyway, and He will give you good and perfect gifts according to His grace (Philippians 4:19; John 1:16).

Eternity Over Error

Santa can supposedly bring you a bunch of candy, a new skateboard, or a Red Ryder BB gun.

Jesus gives you the gift of eternal life (John 3:15; Romans 6:23; I John 2:25). Nobody ever got a tummy ache, a skinned knee, or shot his eye out with eternal life.

Red ryder BB gunshoot your eye out

The Virgin Birth

December 19, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 6 Comments
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In the ongoing series of theological concepts to discuss with our kids during the holidays, we have mentioned:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
Now we come to:
4. The Virgin Birth

This can be a tricky one with kids, and – especially when it comes to really young kids – you may want to leave the subject of virginity alone, or at least use a tremendous amount of tact and delicacy. Use your own judgment. You will know what your own kids can and can’t handle and understand. However, the miracle of Mary’s pregnancy, despite having no husband and having never “known” a man (Luke 1:34), is a crucial doctrine of the Christian faith.

First, it shows the miraculous power of God, because babies just aren’t conceived this way apart from His supernatural action. Second, Jesus Christ, although conceived in the womb of a sinner, was not “conceived in sin” the way every other human being (sons and daughters of Adam) has been. Jesus was not only holy, sinless, and righteous in all His earthly deeds, thoughts, intentions, and words, but was sinless in His essence and “person.”

Perhaps you could explain to your children that the appearance of a newborn baby requires a mommy and daddy, except for this one time – which we celebrate at Christmas – when a baby was born whose Father was God.

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:26-37

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

We will continue the series by looking at the humanity of Jesus next time.

The Condescension

December 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Posted in Incarnation | 5 Comments
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Previously, I recommended that Christian parents use the holiday season to discuss some relevant theological ideas with our children, such as:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent

Now, add the Condescension to the list. This is a good concept to explain to children when they see droplets of water forming on a frosty beverage glass. Just kidding, that’s “condensation.”

The Condescension of Christ refers to the way in which the Son of God left His throne of glory in Heaven and came to live in our world as a man. He “stooped down” or “condescended” to our level in order to identify with us in our sufferings, needs, and dependence upon God, even beginning His earthly life as a newborn baby. This is one of the tremendous blessings and features of the Gospel message, for it helps to show how much Jesus loves us and how far He went to redeem us. As you explain it to your kids, it would be good for you to get down on their level, kneeling, sitting on the floor, or bending down to demonstrate.

For those who do the Christmas tree thing, helping them hang ornaments on the lowest branches of your Christmas tree, or peering underneath at some of the waiting-to-be-opened presents, would be an ideal time for this.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

II Corinthians 8:9

Next time we will discuss the Virgin Birth.

Advent

December 15, 2017 at 9:01 am | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 6 Comments
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December is a great time for Christian parents to talk with our children about some of the great theological concepts associated with Christ’s:
1. Incarnation
2. Advent

As we get older, it seems like December 25 comes faster and faster each year. The agony and expectancy of having to wait for the opening of presents and the sharing of goodies makes the period between Thanksgiving and “the big day” seem like an eternity to little kids. For us adults, who have full schedules and obligations, it seems like Christmas comes the day after Labor Day!

“Advent” means the arrival of something important, and it has taken on the connotation of waiting for something with the sort of longing that makes it seem like a long time in coming. In Christian theology, though, it has a specific reference to the appearance of Jesus Christ at his birth in Bethlehem (His first Advent) and His imminent return, for which we are still waiting (His second Advent). Christmas is a good time to explain to kids that faithful Old Testament believers knew what it feels like to wait with great anticipation for Christmas morning. The prophecies that a Messiah would come to save them from the punishment for their sins and to set them free to enjoy the favor and goodness of God began way back in Genesis 3:15 and continued for centuries and centuries. Kids who are antsy about the arrival of Christmas are the perfect candidates to hear about the stories of Simeon and Anna.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:25-38.

See also:

And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:13-14

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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2

Next time we will take a look at the Condescension.


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