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"The Christmas Story -
A Message of Peace, Hope, and Love"

By Pastor David Zimmerman
Bible Baptist Church, Sapulpa, OK

Text:  Matthew 1:19-25

Introduction:  To many today, Christmas is just a holiday – a stressful one at that.  It’s a time for buying gifts that didn’t need to be bought out of a budget that couldn’t afford them.  It’s a time for squeezing par-ties and extra events into a schedule that was already too full.  It’s a time in which many feel rushed and overcommitted when what they really need is to slow down and enjoy the season.
Christmas should be a time of peace, not of fear and unrest.  We fear we may overlook someone on our gift list, or maybe they won’t like what we bought them, or perhaps they will think our gift too cheap.  For some, Christmas brings the added tension of bringing together fractured families.  Instead of peace, they dread the inevitable conflicts.  Yet, Christmas should be a time of peace.

Christmas should be a time of hope.  Think about this, Christmas is poised at the end of one year and the beginning of the next – at the crossroads of the past and the future.  A previous year, with its blessings and its trials, is gone.  A new year looms ahead, full of uncertainty.  Yet, here is Christmas – the celebration of a birth that took place 2000 years ago – a perennial bright spot on our calendars – because God has give us hope.  Christmas should be a time of hope.

Christmas should be a time of love centered around the greatest love story ever told – the story of God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.  Christmas is the story of God’s greatest gift given to meet our greatest need – because God is Love.  Christmas should be a time of love.

The Christmas story – a tale retold year after year, yet it never loses its majesty; it never ceases to fill our hearts with wonder.  I want you to see three facts – three certainties – that if you will let them find room in your heart today, they will fill this Christmas with peace, hope, and love.

I. God is In Control – Verses 18-20

    A. A Scandalous Discovery

She was found with child.  Forget, for a moment, the part about “of the Holy Ghost.”  You and I know that now because we have it written in the Word of God.  But only Mary knew it then.  For five, maybe six months she had been able to keep her condi-tion a secret.  But the day arrived when her pregnancy could no longer be hidden.  She was found with child.  She was found out.

I can only imagine the confusion this caused – the questions, the tears, the anger, the accusations, and the quiet denials of Mary.  She was pregnant, and everyone knew that she shouldn’t be.

Put yourself in Mary’s place.  How would you like to face the condemning stares of family and friends, those “knowing” looks of the neighbors?  Can you imagine the Gossip; the “facts” filled in with juicy speculations?  It must have seemed to Mary as if her world was coming apart.

    B. Joseph’s Dilemma

Now put yourself in Joseph’s place.  What else could he think but that Mary had been unfaithful?  How could He possibly believe her unbelievable explanation of her pregnancy?  Would you?  Could you?
I do not know what emotions Joseph wrestled with, but the Scriptures indicate that Joseph struggled to know what to do.  He was a just man – he had to do what was right.  But he was not a bitter man, although we could hardly have blamed him.  He didn’t want Mary to face the shame and humiliation of a public trial for adultery.  Should he do what was expected, inflicting further pain and suffering on a life that in his eyes was already in ruins?  Wouldn’t it be better to get things over quietly, letting everyone just get on with their lives?

    C. God’s Intervention

Into the midst of this confusion, with all its conflicting thoughts and emotions, Joseph receives a word from God.  And let me say, that is what we need when our lives spin out of control.  When life is filled with uncertainty, God’s Word can be trusted.

God’s message to Joseph was designed to do two things:

            1. To replace his fear and confusion with peace.
            2. To assure him that God was in control.
                a. Everything that was happening was according to plan.
                b. If Joseph would allow God to be in control, God would be responsible for bringing peace.
                    Our lives offer no surprises, doubts, uncertainties, or fears to God.  He is in control.  Just
                    as  He knew what was happening in Nazareth, he knows what is happening in your
                    home.  And He knows just what to say to bring peace into your house this Christmas.

                    That is one truth of the Christmas story.

II. God Can – Verses 22-25

    A. He fulfilled prophecy

            1. One of the best evidences for the existence of God, the inspiration of the Bible, and the Deity
                of Jesus Christ is fulfilled prophecy.

                a. Josh McDowell lists 61 major prophecies that were fulfilled in the birth, life, and death of 
                    Jesus.

                b. Peter Stoner, a mathematician, applied the prin-ciples of probability to just 8 of these 
                    prophecies.

Imagine covering the state of Texas with silver dollars 2 feet deep.  The number of silver dollars would be 1 followed by 17 ze-roes.  Now imagine that all those silver dollars are alike except one.  It is marked with a bold, black “X.”  We blindfold a man, place him in the middle of the state, and tell him that he can only pick up one silver dollar.  The chance of him picking up the marked silver dollar in one try is so slim as to be labeled scientifically impossible – 1 in 1017.  That is the same chance of having just 8 of the prophecies concerning Christ to be fulfilled in one man without the intervention of God.

            2. Fulfilled prophecy tells us that what God promises, He CAN perform.

    B. He enabled a virgin to give birth

            1. The Bible is so plain on the matter of the virgin birth that it must either be accepted or rejected.
                a. God supernaturally created a child in the womb of Mary without the aid of human father
                b. Either it happened as written, or it did not.
            2. There are those who reject the virgin birth as a bio-logical impossibility, but it is such only if 
                God is no more real than Santa Claus.

That God DID fulfill prophecy, and that He DID create life in a virgin womb tells us that nothing is too hard for God.  He CAN.
 


The Christmas story is an annual reminder that God CAN.  Knowing that God can brings hope.

III. God Cares – Verse 21

There are two vital thoughts in this verse – that conveyed by the word save and that conveyed by the word sins.

1. God saw us in our sins – the guilt, the bondage, the cor-ruption, the addictions – all the ways we fall short of God’s standard of perfection

2. Instead of despising us, God loved us.  Although our sins condemned us, God chose to save us.
It was God’s love that compelled Him to send His Son to be born – and, eventually, to die for our sins.

Conclusion

An artist was painting a winter landscape.  He painted the ground beneath a blanket of snow, with pine trees their limbs capped in white.  Then, with a few deft strokes of his brush, night fell on the canvas and the entire scene was covered with semi-darkness.  A grim log cabin was barely visible in the shadows.  Finally, the artist dipped his brush in the yellow paint of his pallet, and carefully added to one of the cabin windows the warm glow of a lamp.  As he finished the painting the gold rays of the lamp re-flected happily on the fresh snow.  The lonely light totally changed the tone of the picture, replacing the gloomy chilled night with a warm and secure homestead.

What happened on that canvas happened two thousand years ago on the world's canvas.  A tiny baby came into a grim and dark world, shining light across the barren landscape – a light that still invites men to come into the warmth of God’s grace and find there peace, and hope, and love.
Realizing that…
 

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