Merry & Bright (Cont.)

Merry & Bright (Cont.)

This morning, we’re once again going to go back to that day when Jesus was born.  I believe that this morning, God desires for us to better understand what makes this season “Merry & Bright.” 

When God became flesh and dwelt among us as a baby, it was certainly a time of great joy.  When Jesus was born, a great light entered the world that brought hope.

In today’s world, we need to keep in mind this same hope that is available to us; that same great light that shines brightly through the darkness.  It’s easy for us to see all that is happening in the world and the great darkness that it often brings. 

We see these things happening because of the poor choices of people.  We see wickedness and evil in the hearts of mankind and the pain and grief that it brings.  Whether it be at the hand of world leaders, unfaithful spouses, friends that betray us, or whatever the case may be and become frustrated by it.

It’s important for us in those times not to focus on the darkness around us and allow it to grow roots of bitterness and frustration in our hearts.  Instead, we can look beyond the circumstances and remember the hope and light within us that no darkness around us can ever snuff out! 

It’s important for us to lift our eyes up to God and see what He is doing through the darkness.  None of it is going to stop His plans and purposes for you!  None of it is greater than our all-powerful God!  What mankind intends for evil and to harm us, God works together for good!

We see this reality in movement with the birth of Jesus.  John described the birth of Jesus poetically in this way:

John 1:1-14

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

When God chose the timing to wrap Himself in flesh and to dwell among us, it wasn’t during the best time in our history.  It was a very dark time full of chaos and power struggles and frustration. 

He came at a time when His own people were crying out for the savior to come to their rescue and yet when He came, He wasn’t what they were expecting or seeking out.  They didn’t recognize nor receive Him as their savior and their God.

The circumstances in and through which Jesus was born weren’t all that merry and bright.  In fact, the great joy about the light of the world experienced on that day was in contrast to a very dark reality. 

The circumstances through which God chose to come into the world weren’t all that merry and bright.  He chose to come in complete humility living a complete life as you and I have with one difference; born of the Holy Spirit and not of a man so that He was not born into sin.

He came as a baby born to a young couple not yet married through a girl who was a virgin.

Matthew 1:18-25

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  (We find the interaction with the angel Gabriel and Mary when she learned that this was going to happen in Luke 1:26-38) 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Not only were the conditions in the world dark, but the family circumstance that Jesus was born into was dark.  A young, unwed couple were chosen for His parents.  A virgin birth?  Impregnated by the Holy Spirit?  Well, you can imagine how everyone responded to that claim.  Even Joseph nearly ended the pledge of marriage had it not been for angelic intervention.

We see clear evidence later in life that even his brothers and sisters didn’t believe that He was the Messiah.  In Mark 3, His family said that He was out of His mind and tried to stop His ministry.  Worse yet, his brothers seemed to wish He were dead…

John 7:1-5

1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

This world can be dark and difficult, but no one’s life is more dark than the one without the unconditional love and support of a healthy family.

At the time of His birth, a world leader decided to have Him executed.  Can you imagine such opposition?!?  This young couple and their little child had every odd stacked against them.  In fact, God knew that these things would occur and yet still chose to wrap Himself in flesh and entrust this young couple with Himself.  No word of God will ever fail!

Matthew 2:1-23

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,

    weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

    and refusing to be comforted,

    because they are no more.”

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Jesus, the light of the world, was born into darkness.  He overcame a darkness far greater than we could ever experience in this world because the light within Him, that same light within us, cannot be overcome!  No word from God will ever fail!

We celebrate the Christmas season and consider it a time to be Merry & Bright.  And rightfully so!  All of the dark circumstances in which Jesus was born into, and lived through, and even died as a result of serve only to greater contrast and amplify His great light and the joy and hope that He brings!

Our Savior has come and His joy is our strength!  We always have reason to rejoice and praise!  We always have good news to share with all people that will give them great joy as well!

Isaiah 12:2-6

2 Surely God is my salvation;

    I will trust and not be afraid.

The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;

    he has become my salvation.”

3 With joy you will draw water

    from the wells of salvation.

4 In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;

    make known among the nations what he has done,

    and proclaim that his name is exalted.

5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;

    let this be known to all the world.

6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,

    for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

The Heavenly realms are always praising and rejoicing.  When the world is filled with darkness, Heaven’s great light and joy isn’t affected by it at all.  When we see from a Heavenly perspective, we see better things.  We see beyond our immediate circumstances to the good that God is bringing from it all.

The world saw a young couple lying about their pregnancy shoved out into a barn to give birth and given an animal’s feeding trough as His cradle, they saw the Messiah, the Lord, the Savior of the world enthroned in glory.

When we have Christ in our lives, all is truly Merry & Bright!  Though we may be surrounded by darkness and though the opposition may be great, we have something even greater!  We have a living hope found in the living word of God and through Jesus, we can overcome all things! 

We have the light of Christ within us and nothing can even throw a shadow against it!  We can be merry as His joy rises up within us no matter our circumstances.  We can shine bright the light of Christ as the glory of the Holy Spirit is revealed through our lives!  So get out there and shake off all of that gloom. 

May your Christmas be Merry & Bright and may your life make this Christmas Merry & Bright for those around you as well!

Merry & Bright