Christmas Presence #1
Christmas is in the air...
Sometimes Christians can get uptight around Christmas. Some will say Christmas is a pagan holiday.
Which is true to an extent. It is certainly not true in it’s entirety. But a lot of what we do and the traditions we hold can be traced back to pagan or un-godly origins.
So let me make you are aware of a couple of key details.
Jesus was not born on December 25th.
This is a near certain fact.
Jesus was most likely Born in mid September based on a number of clues.
- Zechariah the father of John the Baptist
- Shepherds in the Field watching their flocks by night.
- Star of Bethlehem - Which astrologically can be used to estimate the birth of Christ to September…
- September 11 3 BC
Personally I favor the idea that Jesus was born on the feast of Trumpets. I have not spoken in much detail on the feasts of the Lord in some time. So if the feast of Trumpets in unfamiliar to you - it is the 4th of 7 feast/festivals that God commands his people to remember to celebrate what God has done in the past AND what he is going to do in the future.
Another thing that is important to understand that is that what we see in a traditional nativity scene is not very accurate.
I believe there is room for "artistic license" to tell a story without being super literal.
So is Christmas a Pagan Holiday? Yes & No.
While some people see Christmas as the paganization of a Christian holiday. It is actually more accurate to think of it as the Christianization of a pagan holiday.
There is a lot about this season that makes me cringe and want to push it away - because it is so un-godly but done in with the presumption of being good and holy.
BUT - let me tell why what I love about Christmas.
Most of this planet slows down a little bit and thinks about Jesus.
For most people Christmas is largely if not mostly about Presents.
Wrapped presents under a tree - what a weird tradition… Right?
Christmas Presents are the highlight of the year for many children. Kids everywhere dream about Christmas presents. And many adults too.
Parents love Christmas Presents - watching the joy of a child at Christmas has to be one of the best feeling in the world.
“There is a PRESENCE that is better than any PRESENTS you can ever imagine”
The word present (P R E S E N T) - is from the word: PRESENT as in Presenting or presentation. Really when we give some one a present - what we are doing is presenting a gift.
The word presence (P R E S E N C E) refers to the state of being present.
Remember roll-call in school. The teacher would call your name and you would say… “here!” Or you might say “Present”
“In a world focused on Presents - We need a church church focused on presence”
On being present in His presence…
Because there is no greater present you will ever receive than the presence of God.
There is something about the presence of God.
Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
In your presence there is fullness of joy...
Exodus 33:14 (ESV)
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Acts 3:20 (ESV)
Times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord...
The presence of God is where real change happens in our lives.
There are some things that seem obvious about the presence of God that can lead people to take that presence for granted.
For example God is Omni-Present. That means God is always present everywhere…
David said of God:
Psalm 139:7–12 ESV
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
God is simultaneously everywhere in the universe.
Sometimes we say things at church - that seems to contradict this.
We say, “The presence of God is here today.”
“God’s Presence is Strong today”
The truth is God is always present.
When we say things like that - most of us understand that we are not really talking about the presence of God. We are talking about our sensitivity to His presence. In a way what we are a really talking about is OUR presence not His.
God’s presence is not changed - we are.
The presence of God is ever present - but not always accessible.
For many - the presence of God is both inescapable and inaccessible.
This is the sad reality for all unbelievers.
There is also a sad reality that many people who do believe - have access to the presence of God but do not value it.
Can you imagine giving someone a wrapped present - but they never open It?
This what it is like for believers who never experience God’s presence.
And in reality many Christians do not experience the presence of God - and Most do not on any regular basis.
What it is and what it is not...
At this point I want to clarify what the presence of God is and what it is not.
The presence of God is not:
- Goose bumps on the back of your neck
- One of the mistakes we make about the presence of God is we confuse it with the feeling of inspiration. We all love to feel inspired. However whenever we feel inspired in a spiritual context we often assume it is the presence of God or the anointing of the Spirit of God.
- Your favorite worship song
- Your favorite sermon
The presence of God can be:
- In your car during bad traffic
- In your shower
- in your back yard
- At the gym walking on the treadmill
You can experience the presence of God can be anywhere at any time .
So often what we have done is take the presents of his presence and left it sitting un-opened under the tree.
- The presence of God changes us
- The presence of God convicts us of sin
- The presence of God Motivates us come running to Him
- The presence of God breaks us
The WORD of God
I love the WORD of God. The Word of God should lead us to the presence of God.
And the presence of God should never be absent from the Word of God.
Unfortunately there are many followers of Jesus who care little for His word and are only interested in what they think is his presence.
The alleged presence of God without the Word of God is most likely just emotional expression.
The presence of God is not for your enjoyment.
The presence of God is not for your personal expression.
The presence of God is AWESOME & wonderful & AWESOME and terrible.
We cannot take the presence of God for granted - we cannot see his presence as something to play with. We must recognize that his AWESOME and WONDERFUL presence is an ALL CONSUMING FIRE.
The writer of Hebrews wants to make sure the readers understand what the presence of God is like. So he reminds of them of what the presence of God looked like to Moses and the children of Israel.
Hebrews 12:18–29 ESV
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
I want to encourage you today - as we launch into this Christmas season - to be present in His presence. Don’t let the paganism or worldly-ism take cause you to TUNE OUT from the presence of God.
Our God is a consuming fire.
- Let his presence consume you
- Let his love surround you
- Let his joy overtake you
- Let his peace override every fear every anxiety every worry every trouble
Because there is no greater present - than his presence.