THE MESSAGE Of THE MANGER
by T.F. Tenny
It is recorded in Luke 2:12, “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God…” The last word before an explosive praise in heaven heralding the coming Messiah was the word “manger.” How could such a lowly trough promote such lofty worship? How could such a mundane thing become a container for deity? And yet, there it was, a manger.
So many things could have been said to the shepherds with reference to the Christ. The angels could have said, “I bring you great news! You will find the Messiah in Room 204 in the Bethlehem Holiday Inn.” He could have been born in a palace. The Almighty could have seen that room was provided for Him in the Inn. But it was not to be so. A manger was to be His cradle, the lowly feeding trough of the sheep. As one man observed, “The manger told more than just where He was. The manger told who He was and what He had come to do.”
It is my opinion that since Bethlehem was sheep herding country, the stable to which they were led could have well been a cave behind the Inn. It was quite common in those days to put sheep in caves in bad
weather. We can assume they were staying wherever the sheep were kept at that time of year. What a concept! Jesus intends to cradle His head and lodge where the sheep are. He didn’t want to be born in the local Inn. He wanted to come into existence among the lowly sheep, symbols of those who would call Him the Great Shepherd. That’s the message of the manger! he will pass up a palace to be with His people. Don’t forget this was a sign. It was mentioned that the shepherds would find this child in the City of David, but the sign itself would be that the child would be found in a manger. It was quite common to wrap a newborn in swaddling clothes, but to be born in a manger was not. Could the message of the manger also be that
He was as common as swaddling clothes and yet so unique until another had never been born such as He was. He was both God and man, both ordinary and extraordinary. Someone has observed that the difference between the Father and the Son is the difference between God beyond and God related, God veiled and God unveiled. Yes, Jesus was the God-Man, both human and divine. He rocked in cadence between swaddling clothes and a manger.
The message of the manger is one of humility. He who knew no sin became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Birth is a wonderful thing. Whenever a child is born we want the finest facilities and the most outstanding physician. Whenever the baby returns home, everything is in readiness and his “Little Room” is there. This was not so with Jesus. To say that His birth was humble is the understatement of the ages. This babe was literally born in the palace where animals were born. What humility! What a sense of destiny and identifying with the sheep.
Why was He in that stable in the first place? Simply because He was rejected. There was no room in the Inn. We make a beautiful story out of it. But, it’s a little hard for me to comprehend how burly men,
seeing a woman about to bring forth a child, would not say, “Here, you can have my room or my bed..” It was not to be so. He was rejected. Now, He cannot only sympathize with us but empathize with us. As our Shepherd Lord He knows how we feel as His sheep when we are rejected, when without reason we are turned aside, not accepted, and looked down upon. What a Savior! That is the message of the manger.
By G. L. Vittitow
“And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find…” (Luke 2: 12).
There were many appalling conditions at the time Christ born. Politically, the holy land had been divided among Roman rulers. Priestly, the divine structure had collapsed and instead of one high priest both Ann as and Alphas were high priest contrary to what God established by the law. Spiritually, those seeking the promised Messiah were reduced to two elderly believers hanging around the temple. It
seemed that God had held back from moving among the people. Israel was depicted as “dry ground” and “dry bones”. They did not know what real joy or peace was!
When the angel appeared, and “the glory of the Lord shone round about them”, their ray of light brought hope to all mankind. “I bring you good tidings of great joy,” they proclaimed. Those who looked found
great joy in the birth of Jesus. “And the light Kenneth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). The darkness of this world has never comprehended that light! While there is much darkness all around us, WE have a REASON to celebrate His birth!
A recent poll revealed that 80 percent of the people felt that the smile and joy of Christmas was plastic. Inside themselves was hopelessness and emptiness rather than the great joy. The other 20 percent felt the same about Christmas, but stated that Jesus’ coming had made all the difference. His reason for coming was to save people from their sins. Jesus came to a poor and impoverished people with very
little, if any, of the comforts of life. But His coming was like a “light shining in the darkness”.
Just finding Him gives us HOPE, PEACE, and JOY.
A CHRISTMAS GIFT TO DADS
by Thetas Tenney
Christmas always stirs mental visions of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. The “baby in the manger” is always center stage and, of course, Mary is the major performer in “The greatest Story Ever Told.” But
Joseph, in his supporting role, often seems somewhat neglected. Although he was not the actual father of Jesus, he was Jesus’ earthly father figure. As such, Joseph was and is a very important character in
“The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
Joseph’s story can be a very special gift to dads. His brief appearance in scripture is always connected with the heaviness of a dad’s responsibilities…decision concerning his wife, provision for her, direction concerning the child and providing protection for him. To be the responsible head of a family is burdensome. To be responsible for protection, provision, direction, and decision is not an easy load.
Joseph’s story proves that a just man — a good man’s steps — are ordered of the Lord (Psalms 27:33). At every point of decision and juncture, God guided this modest man so that he could be a good dad and
Joseph’s concern was all that was necessary for God’s response to guiding him. So be encouraged, dads! If He did it for Joseph, the carpenter, He will do it for you.
Isn’t it awesome that as a father you share one of the titles God gave to himself? He is not interested in tarnishing that title, so I am sure He is anxious to give you a very special gift.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
Soft snow falling. Spirits bright. Fields, trees, rivers everything- covered with snow, that white winter glory. It’s Christmas … and we love it.
By Clyde H. Dennis
from Good News Publishers
White Christmas. Beautiful snow. Let us, as the inspired writer of old has challenged, enter into the full meaning of Christmas. Let us come to know Him who made possible the first Christmas. While science, with camera and microscope reveals the treasures of the snow, the following are spiritual treasures hidden in the Holy Scriptures.
THE FIRST TREASURE of the snow is the treasure of forgiveness. “Come now, and let us reason together, faith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” [Is. 1:18] reminds us of God’s forgiving character. No one will say that he has not sinned … And the wages of sin is eternal death. But God loves us. The reason He came to earth long ago was that He might die for the sin of the world. “God His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” [Do. 5:8]. And now, if we acknowledge our sinfulness in God’s sight, and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Personal Savior, we are cleansed and made as white as snow. Have You entered into this treasure?
THE SECOND TREASURE is that of fellowship. David, after he had served God for years, sinned grievously. He lost God’s smile. He needed to confess his sin that he might be restored. In Psalm 51 :7 we hear his cry to God, ‘Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow!” Oh, that none who has been cleansed by the precious blood of Christ may neglect coming to Him for washing, that his fellowship might remain unbroken.
THE THIRD TREASURE of the snow is that of Christ’s eternal presence. In that scene of glory in the Revelation we read, “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow” [Rev. 1 :14]. Here Christ appears as the Ancient of the Ages, the One in whom is all wisdom and knowledge. And it is going to be the eternal joy of the Christian to dwell eternally with Christi n heavenly glory.
But you cannot know anything of this until you know the first treasure of forgiveness. May this truly be fore you a WHITE Christmas, because your heart is cleansed through the blood of Jesus Christ.
I. THOU SHALT NOT LEAVE CHRIST OUT OF CHRISTMAS, MAKING IT ‘XMAS’. TO SOME ‘X’ IS UNKNOWN.
II. THOU SHALT PREPARE THY SOUL FOR CHRISTMAS. SPEND NOT SO MUCH ON GIFTS THAT THY SOUL IS FORGOTTEN.
III. THOU SHALT NOT LET SANTA CLAUS REPLACE CHRIST, THUS ROBBING THE DAY OF ITS SPIRITUAL REALITY.
IV. THOU SHALT NOT BURDEN THE SHOP GIRL, THE MAILMAN, AND THE MERCHANT WITH COMPLAINTS AND DEMANDS.
V. THOU SHALT GIVE THYSELF WITH THY GIFT. THIS WILL INCREASE ITS VALUE A HUNDRED FOLD, AND HE WHO RECEIVETH IT SHALL TREASURE IT
VI. THOU SHALT NOT VALUE GIFTS RECEIVED BY THEIR COST. EVEN THE LEAST EXPENSIVE MAY SIGNIFY LOVE, AND THAT IS MORE PRICELESS THAN SILVER AND GOLD.
VII. THOU SHALT NOT NEGLECT THE NEEDY. SHARE THY BLESSINGS WITH MANY WHO WILL GO HUNGRY AND COLD UNLESS THOU ART GENEROUS.
VIII. THOU SHALT NOT NEGLECT THY CHURCH. ITS SERVICES HIGHLIGHT THE TRUE MEANING OF THE SEASON.
IX. THOU SHALT BE AS A LITTLE CHILD. NOT UNTIL THOU HAS BECOME IN SPIRIT AS A LITTLE ONE ART THOU READY TO ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
X. THOU SHALT GIVE THY HEART TO CHRIST. LET HIM BE AT THE TOP OF THY CHRISTMAS LIST.
THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Lajoyce Martin
Twas the week before Christmas, when all through God’s house, The benches were empty, save for pastor and spouse. The saints were at home, decorating with care, In hopes that the relatives soon would be there, Without saying a prayer, they’d tumbled in bed…. With not even a thought of Christ in their head.
Mom in her apron, Pop in his chair, Dud eating popcorn, His fixing her hair It’s church night tonight, the conscience does clatter, But it’s so close to Christmas, what does it matter? The holiday season will be gone in a flash… They might take an offering, and I’m low on cash.
The parson at church, with head bowed low, Prays for each member, and then the tears flow:
“Oh God, cause before their eyes to appear The REAL MEANING of your birth at Christmas this year,
Cause their gay gatherings to make them heartsick When instead of You, they worship St. Nick.”
More rapid than eagles, the words and tears came, As he wept and he cried and called them by name:
“The Deacon! The Wider! And Brother Lukewarm. From those in the city to those on the farm:
Speak to each heart TONIGHT through Thy call – Oh God, please save these Thy saints, one and all!”
As dead leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, Each saint that was absent, felt his soul dry.
As if by some dawning, suddenly each knew He couldn’t miss church and find Christmas true.
Then in a twinkling, I heard some soul say, “We’re going to church; it’s Jesus’ birthday!”
Up from his knees and standing again, The parson watched as each member filed in. From their appearance, they’d come in a hurry But down in his heart, he had not a worry. From the looks on their faces, it made him to know They’d awakened and conquered the trick of the foe!
Then laying his finger on a verse in the Book, The preacher rejoiced, as his text he took. The Spirit of Christmas came straight from heaven As he read that old story from Luke two and seven. And I heard the saints say, as they drove out of sight, “We’ve found the REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS tonight!”
GETTING A GRIP ON CHRISTMAS
Carl A. Trapani, Editor
The malls are full. The stores are stuffed. Traffic is terrible. It’s the holiday season once again. Time for people seeking the “holiday spirit” to lose any remnant of joy, peace and love, as they madly pursue finding the perfect gift for people they don’t even like. The shelves are stocked with just about everything except the advertised sale items you came looking for. Everywhere you look, crying kids with
runny noses are screaming for something they want, NOW! You put your life on the line as you move cautiously through the store. Down every aisle you have to watch out for violent shoppers who are using their carts as battering rams. These people become increasing violent as they decide they have had enough, and begin bashing their way towards the checkout line. As you approach these lines, you hear sounds that remind you more of a battle zone or insane asylum than a pleasant retail outlet. The noise, mayhem, and logjam of humanity is awesome. That is why some experienced veterans of the Christmas Crush wisely send a child or two to the checkout line as they enter the store, to hold their place in line. Their foresight is evident when you notice that the checkout lines start at the front door and go out the back.
When you get finally arrive at the cash register, you become aware it’s being run by a gum-chewing, teen-age girl. This is obviously her first day on the job. She’s one of the extras put on part-time for the
Christmas rush. It takes her about 2 minutes per item just to find the keys. You try not to get angry, but while she pokes around at the register she is also keeping a running discussion with the girl at the
next register about her date last night with some boy named Waldo.
In between her gum-chewing, and conversation, she has to get a price check on every other item. Finally, after what seems hours, she is down to the last three items. It is then that she looks up at you, s and
says, “Coops, u the register tape jammed. I’ve got to void everything an very surprised.
Maybe in the midst of all this mayhem, you have found yourself getting a less than “ho ho ho” kind of attitude. In act you may actually find yourself identifying strongly with Id Ebeneezer Scrooge of Dicken’s
immortal tale, A Christmas Carol. If so, I am glad you are reading this. You need this message. You need to “get a grip on Christmas.” You need once again to see the real reason and essence of this “most
wonderful time of the year.”
First of all – let me assert that the real meaning of Christmas is assuredly not a lot of things that have become associated with it. Christmas is definitely NOT: SANTA CLAUS – Kris Kringle, Jolly old St.
Nick, and a lot of other names are used for a fat old man in what must be the filthiest red suit in town, (considering how many chimneys he is supposed to be sliding up and down). I sure wouldn’t want him sitting down in my living room!. Besides that, I always wondered how he got into homes that didn’t have chimneys -I guess those homes just missed out on getting any gifts from him.
I recently spoke with a college student who confided in me that she despised Santa, because of how her faith was so terribly shaken when she discovered at the age of seven, that he wasn’t real! She said she
now has a hard time believing in God, because she keeps thinking, “What if He isn’t real either?” Santa becomes a tool of Satan to destroy children’s faith after they discover he isn’t real.
I’m still amazed at the number of Christians who actually teach their children to believe in Santa Claus. Can it be that like the “man of sin” he has deceived even the very elect?
There are some other interesting observations regarding Santa and Satan. Santa has the same letters as Satan. Both are shown wearing red. Both make promises they don’t keep. Both deceive. Both try to take the place of Jesus. Santa has elves to help him, just like Satan has little demons that work for him!
In the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” there are an amazing number of metaphors comparing Santa to God. These have entered into our culture and become part of the cult surrounding Santa Claus. Santa’s coming on Christmas Eve is like the 2nd Coming, He has Divine attributes and is All-knowing, All-Wise, Ever-Present, Keeps a Record, and Judges and Rewards Human Actions. Notice the lyrics “You better watch out, you better not cry, You better not pout, I’m telling you why…. He ‘s making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…. He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”
The real meaning of Christmas is definitely not found in Santa Claus, or the abbreviation Xmas. And it isn’t in any of the following things that are often associated with it either
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER – or any other team of flying animals with strange sounding German names.
FROSTY – the living snowman. I sure wouldn’t let my children play with some fat snow-beast with a magic hat.
MISTLETOE, HOLLY – or any other noxious weed or plant. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that encircles and destroys many good young trees.
SNOW. Christmas in Florida is still Christmas without snow.
CHRISTMAS CARDS – Each year the list gets longer as we send and receive greetings to folks that we don’t speak with for the rest of the year.
CHRISTMAS TREES – Some folks believe that these are condemned as idols in Jeremiah 10:3-5. Maybe to protect the unwary, there could be a sign made to hang on them.
“WARNING – THIS TREE IS NOT GOD. IT IS ONLY A
HOLIDAY DECO RATION PLEASE DO NOT WARSHIP”
And the real meaning of Christmas isn’t found in any of these things either. BELLS – Silver, or Jingle. CHRISTMAS PARTIES STOCKINGS HUNG BY THE FIREPLACE GIFT EXCHANGES LIGHTS AND TINSEL SLEIGH RIDES COOKIES, BAKING CHRISTMAS CAROLS AND SO ON, AND ON.
Let me measure you that not all of these things are necessarily bad, or wrong. Some of them are actually quite nice. It’s just that they aren’t what Christmas is all about. If you aren’t careful you may find
yourself caught up in these rather than the real meaning and essence of Christmas. If you want to get a grip on Christmas, disregard all these, and consider the real meaning of Christmas THE REAL ESSENCE OF CHRISTMAS IS BOUND UP IN A PERSON, AN EVENT, AND A MISSION.
THE PERSON – JESUS CHRIST He was God incarnate. THE EVENT – HIS BIRTH AT BETHLEHEM God became flesh, and dwelt among us. THE MISSION – HE CAME TO SAVE US He came to seek and to save that which was lost.
GET A GRIP ON THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS. TAKE TIME TO REMEMBER THAT ONE DAY, ALMOST 2,000 YEARS AGO, OUR SAVIOR WAS BORN. HE CAME AS GOD’S GIFT TO ALL MANKIND. TAKE THE TIME TO BE THANKFUL FOR JESUS CHRIST. SO GET A GRIP ON CHRISTMAS. GET A GRIP ON JESUS CHRIST! DON’T EVER FORGET THAT HE’S THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!
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