Friday, October 31, 2014

SERMON: Best gift ever

By DAVID BILDERBACK, Special to The Ottawa Herald | 12/20/2013

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders,” Isaiah 9:6-7 reads. “And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Isaiah’s prophecy is made centuries before the birth of Christ. It is so clear in Isaiah’s mind that he speaks concerning it in the past tense, like it has already occurred. At about the same time, the word of the Lord came to a minor prophet named Micah who pronounced this oracle over Bethlehem.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders,” Isaiah 9:6-7 reads. “And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Isaiah’s prophecy is made centuries before the birth of Christ. It is so clear in Isaiah’s mind that he speaks concerning it in the past tense, like it has already occurred. At about the same time, the word of the Lord came to a minor prophet named Micah who pronounced this oracle over Bethlehem.

“But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).

We now have the announcement of the birth of Christ, as well as his birth place centuries before it occurred. In Luke 2, we read of the birth of Jesus. Required by a decree from Caesar Augustus to register for a worldwide census, people returned to their ancestral homes for registration, which made it easier to list families for the purpose of taxation. Israel was under Roman rule at the time and the burden of taxation was heavy. So Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the time came for her to give birth, and she gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped in cloths and laid Him in a manger because there was no room in the inn.

Nearby, there were shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. We read that the shepherds were afraid, not unlike you or I would be if we saw the glory of the Lord shown round us and we saw a multitude of the Heavenly Host above us praising God. The angel assured the shepherds that the message was one of good news and great joy for all the people. We read then that the shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Jesus on Christmas.

I don’t know what your situation is this Christmas. A fair question would be: What does Christmas mean to you? Is your Christmas so crowded there is no room for Jesus? You and I must look into our heart to find the answer to these questions.

It is my hope and prayer that if you don’t know Jesus you will find him this Christmas just as the shepherds did. Accept Jesus as a gift from God just as you would accept any other gift.

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