Congratulations are in order for two of our pastors, Mike Notary and Jeremy Harkins. They both have been preparing for months to take their oral exam before the Ministerial Candidating Committee for the purpose of ordination in the Bible Fellowship Church conference. This oral exam required memorizing the Articles of Faith and being able to defend and interact with the deep doctrinal truths found in them. We are excited to announce that, yesterday, both Mike and Jeremy passed this exam with unanimous approval from the committee. This now means that these men will undergo a one-year probation period during which the Ebenezer elders will observe and evaluate them. Once this is complete, our elders will then recommend Mike and Jeremy to the BFC for ordination. This is a big accomplishment in the life of a minister. I am certain that both Mike and Jeremy would agree with me in saying, “All Glory to God!” I’m thankful for these men and how the Lord has grown them over the last several years. May the Lord continue to sharpen them to be used for the glory of the Lord.
When we look at the biblical story of Christmas, there are several groups of people that missed that first Christmas. They were too busy, hardhearted, arrogant, uninterested or too familiar with the story. As a result, they missed the greatest event in all of history, the coming of the Messiah into the world to save sinners. If we are to ensure that we won’t miss the real meaning of Christmas, then we must learn from these mistakes.
Too Busy: One of the ways people will miss Christmas is to be distracted with busyness. We don’t want to be too hard on the Inn Keeper. But Luke records for us that a certain Inn had no room for Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:7). The city was busting at the seams with people because of the census that Caesar Augustus had decreed. While the Inn Keeper may not have intentionally ignored the Savior, it seems that he may have been too distracted to make allowances for Mary and Joseph. To his defense, the Inn Keeper may not have known anything about Mary and Joseph. But the point is still valid. Busy activity can certainly distract anyone from giving themselves to the most important things. Being preoccupied with the busyness of “the season” is a real danger. So many will make decorating, buying presents, and planning parties the central meaning of Christmas rather than giving their hearts in worship to Jesus, the King of kings and Savior of sinners.
Hard-hearted: A second, and more profound way to miss Christmas, is being unwilling to submit to the Child of Christmas. Sadly, not everyone will be willing to bow their hearts to Jesus in worship. When the Magi came searching for Jesus, as they had seen His star in the east, they announced to King Herod that they had come to “worship him” (Matthew 2:1-16). This announcement troubled Herod and “all of Jerusalem with him.” The people of Jerusalem knew well that Herod would go to great lengths to protect his own throne. The people of Jerusalem were right to be troubled, because Herod indeed tried to kill Jesus. He had all the baby boys two years old and younger who lived near Bethlehem killed. Herod had a hostile heart toward Jesus. He had no desire to allow Jesus to be King over him. Many will miss Christmas this year because they have hostility toward Jesus Christ. They will refuse to bow their hearts to Jesus like the Magi.
Arrogant: A third way to miss Christmas is to be like the religious leaders. When the Magi came to Jerusalem, Herod summoned the experts of God’s Word to ask them exactly where the Messiah was to be born. Knowing God’s Word, the Chief Priests and Scribes accurately quoted Micah 5:2, which says that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:4-6). In response, the Magi quickly went in search for the Messiah, but nothing is said about the religious leaders going with them. This is a glaring mishap! It appears that their apathy was due to their arrogance. Maybe they did not believe they needed a savior. As a result, they did not find a savior. The statement is still true today: “Wise men still seek Him.” Many will miss the true meaning of Christmas this year because of their apathy and arrogance.
Uninterested: In Luke 2:1-2, we are told of the activity of the leaders of the known world at that time, the Romans. Caesar Augustus had decreed that the world should be registered. While these activities are not bad in themselves, they simply show that the world is typically not interested in the things of God. On that first Christmas, the world continued as it always had. In general, the world is earthly minded. Today, is no different. The world has been and will always be more interested in earthly things rather than the spiritual things of God. As a result, they will miss the true meaning of Christmas.
Overly Familiar: The last way to miss Christmas is to simply be so familiar with the holiday that you overlook the significance of it. In Luke 2:39-40, Jesus was carried back to Nazareth after His parents performed every requirement of God’s Law concerning a newborn child. It was there that Jesus grew and became strong and was filled with wisdom having the favor of the Lord upon Him. As wonderful as this was, the people of Nazareth grew so accustomed to Jesus that they missed who He really was. They personally saw Him grow up in their city. Sadly, when Jesus began His ministry, it was the very people of Nazareth who wanted to kill Him (Luke 4:16-30). They were so familiar with the boy who grew up in their town that they missed the glorious truth that Jesus was the Messiah. Christmas will be missed by so many because they are so familiar with the holiday.
While Christmas comes every year, there is a real danger of missing its true meaning. We decorate for Christmas, buy gifts and fellowship with friends and family, yet we must remember that Christmas is really about the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He was born in a manger, but eventually went to the cross so that sinners could be forgiven. Please don’t miss Christmas this year! Pay attention to those who missed the first Christmas. They were too busy, hard-hearted, arrogant, uninterested and too familiar with the story. Rather be like the wise men who sought out Jesus, and the shepherds who left their flocks by night to worship the Christmas child.
If you need help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected]. I would love to share with you the details of God’s Christmas gift for you. I know it will change your life forever.