“Are you ready for Christmas?” Many of us will hear that question over and over in the weeks ahead. We know what is meant by the speaker. Are the gifts purchased, wrapped and under a beautifully decorated tree? Are the goodies baked and invitations sent? And what about the Christmas greetings? They are in the mail, right?
May I suggest another question to be pondered this Christmas season? Are you ready for the celebration of the most significant event in human history, an event planned by God before the creation of the world, the keeping of a promise made to Abraham more than 2,000 years before, the fulfillment of a multitude of God-given prophecies?
These are the questions to help us give more than a passing glance at God’s great gift. Let us be prepared to celebrate because we have spent time gazing on our Savior, the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
DAY ONE: The Promised Gift
A. Genesis 3 relates the fall of man who had been blessed by God with a perfect environment, suitable occupation, and one (only one) restriction.
- What is the offense of which Adam and Eve were guilty? (See Genesis 2:16-17.)
B. With disobedience comes punishment and far-reaching consequences.
- Using all of Genesis 3, along with Romans 5:12-14, list the many results of their disobedience.
- What has been the impact of sin (whether your own or someone else’s sin) in your life?
C. Like the guilty children they were, the pair sought to hide from God.
- Having been discovered, with what means did they attempt to cover their sin?
- What excuses for sin did each offer?
D. Our attempts to cover sin are never successful in God’s eyes. Hebrews 9:22b states that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
- What was God’s immediate provision in Genesis 3:21?
- How does Genesis 3:15 speak of God’s ultimate promise and provision for their sin and ours?
DAY TWO: God’s Gracious Gift
A. How greatly we need the gift Jesus brings to counteract the terrible heritage that all men have received from Adam’s fall. Sin came into the world through Adam and death reigned, bringing all men under the condemnation. But Jesus came into the world bringing a gift beyond compare—righteousness and life!
- In Romans 5:15-21, underline all the times “gift” is found in the verses.
- Contrast the trespass and the gift of grace through these verses.
- If you have received God’s gift of grace and righteousness, how does your life now reflect the abundance of that gift?
B. Although grace is defined as the unmerited, divine assistance given men for their regeneration or sanctification, such a definition does not imply that grace is without cost to the giver. If men were to be reconciled to God, much would be required of the Savior. Indeed, the gift would be costly. May I explain how this became more real to me? Some years ago, a friend and I spent an afternoon browsing in a jewelry store where we marveled at precious stones, gold and silver, admiring their beauty and exclaiming over their cost. The following day, as I participated in our church’s communion service, our pastor remarked that what we held in our hands represented the most precious gift we could hold. My mind went immediately to the precious stones that I had held the day before and how worthless they would be to purchase what was truly needful—my redemption.
- From II Corinthians 5:21 and I Peter 3:18, what was required and given that we might become righteous?
- Look in Isaiah 53:3-9 for numerous other costs to the Redeemer.
- How does I Peter 1:18-19 describe the lavishness of our gift of redemption?
- In the same chapter, verse 4 carries a similar thought. How could the words “never perish, spoil or fade” change your perspective this gift giving (and receiving) season?
- What is your story about the preciousness of your redemption?
DAY THREE: A Promised Son
A. As an artist might outline a mural in broad strokes, then begin adding finer details, God expands our understanding of the promised one through His calling of Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. God reveals that His plan is not only for Abraham, his family and a chosen nation, but will eventually include all people on earth.
- Find the six (or possibly seven) “I will” promises in God’s covenant in Genesis 12:1-3.
- Think again of the artist’s developing mural as you look for points to the promises in Genesis 15:4, 5, 18.
- Considering the heritage of faith that began with Abraham and became a great nation, in your own family line, how would you describe your heritage or legacy of spiritual blessing?
B. After the passing of many years, Abraham’s line (of blessing) was to continue through a son to be named Isaac (Genesis 17:19). Isaac grew and was a source of joy to his parents. The beautiful and touching story in Genesis 22 reminds again of the cost to God in giving His Son.
- What is the repeated phrase found in Genesis 22:2,12,16?
- How does that phrase remind you of God’s gift of love?
- Abraham was willing to make a supreme sacrifice in order to obey God. Instead, God provided the sacrifice. What did He provide and in what ways can you relate the provision to John 1:29?
- As you reflect on God’s gracious provision to you through His Only Beloved Son, how are you expressing your heartfelt gratitude?
DAY FOUR: The Birthplace of the Gift
A. Bethlehem, the birthplace of our Savior, is an ancient city still in existence today. Also known as the City of David (for another famous resident) it can be located on a GPS five miles south of Jerusalem in Israel. Let’s outline its biblical history.
- From Genesis 48:7, why was Bethlehem (also called Ephrath) important to Jacob and his family?
- What Moabite woman mentioned in Matthew 1 chose to ally herself with God’s chosen people? See Ruth 1.
- Also in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ, which future king is anointed in Bethlehem in I Samuel 16:13?
B. Perhaps, your earliest Christmas memories include memorizing the verses from Micah 5 which foretell the birthplace of the Messiah. They also contain more information about the Christ we adore.
- From Micah 5: 2-5, what position does Messiah hold that Jesus speaks of in John 10:11, 14?
- According to Micah 5:4, 5, what are the benefits of belonging to this Shepherd’s flock?
C. It is possible that what first comes to mind when Bethlehem is mentioned is that there was no room available for the birth of the King of Glory.
- Read the words written by Emily E. S. Elliott of one of my favorite Christmas carols
“Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown
When Thou camest to earth for me.
But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus:
There is room in my heart for Thee.”
DAY FIVE: The Sign of the Savior
A. The promise of the one who would bear our reproach for sin comes into clearer view during the 60 years of Isaiah’s ministry to Judah. Isaiah spoke God’s message to both godly and ungodly rulers. But to the ungodly, unrighteous King Ahaz, Isaiah gives God’s sign about a coming child in Isaiah
- From Isaiah 7:14, what information can be gleaned about the child?
- To whom does this sign ultimately point? See Matthew 1:20-23.
- What is the meaning and significance of the child’s name?
- How is that name both a comfort and hope in what you might be facing today?
B. Having foretold that God Himself would one day take on human form and reside with man, Isaiah announces further names for Immanuel that would bring hope to the people’s darkened days.
- What more do you learn about the promised son and his destiny in Isaiah 9:6-7?
- Of the names given here for the child, which speaks to your heart this Christmas season and why?
C, Israel had suffered under many wicked rulers as have many in our day. Isaiah’s voice encourages us to strengthen our hearts as we await the righteous rule of Christ.
- How is Isaiah’s description of Christ’s reign in contrast to present day rulers?
- Identify further distinctions of His dominion from these passages: Zechariah 9:10, Matthew 8:27, Ephesians 1:20-2 and I Peter 3:22.
- Take a moment now to worship the King of Kings with some of His names.
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