Christmas Is Supernatural

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Christmas Is Supernatural

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 20th December, 2020

I remember the days and nights before Christmas when I was a little fella – living in Lismore – sweltering in the summer heat.  

My bedroom was on the western side of the house and air conditioning wasn’t even a thing back then. We didn’t have fans either.  And the mosquitoes….  

But even at night – feeling like I was being slowly fried and eaten – I remember being filled with a sense that something magical was about to happen – especially on Christmas Eve.

It was a mixture of Santa Claus, presents, holidays, wonder, anticipation…. Jesus fitted in there somewhere – and this mystical feeling that this was a really special time of the year.  

I can still remember the strong smell of Christmas beetles – and every evening they’d come up out of these tiny holes in the ground and we’d try and catch them on the way out.

That kind of paints a picture of how I, as a nine and ten year old, experienced this time of the year.

And I’m really happy to say, that 50 years later, my sense of wonder around Christmas hasn’t diminished.   Thankfully though , it has matured and changed. 

For a start, I don’t chase Christmas beetles any more.  Does Ballina even have Christmas beetles?   

And air conditioning is definitely a thing in our house…. 

But my sense of wonder is now firmly focussed on the incredible story that surrounds the birth of Jesus.

Christmas is supernatural.  

Some people might think that the story of Jesus is a fairy tale – but have you noticed that even those who don’t think about God or Jesus any other time of  the year – they are happy to sing carols about Jesus – they in some sense treat Christmas as special or even somewhat sacred…. 

Many people still have feelings of wonder about this time of the year – even if it’s a bit child like.

I believe it’s because Christmas is supernatural, and even those who don’t believe in Jesus – it’s like their heart and their spirit is softened to something they are yet to have a revelation of.

When people talk about the “Spirit of Christmas” – even when they don’t know what they’re talking about – they’re not as far off the mark as some might think.  

Because the “Holy” Spirit has always been at work leading up to Jesus’ birth, in everything that happened throughout the whole story – and ever since, He has been drawing and leading people to Jesus.

The “Spirit” of Christmas is definitely alive and well – and still at work.

And as we know – whole armies of heaven’s angels couldn’t help but reveal themselves as the Saviour of the world was born.

I really hope that you go away today filled with a renewed sense of wonder and expectation – knowing that the supernatural Christmas story is still unfolding –  and we can all be touched by it – and still be touched by the Holy Spirit in a fresh way, if our hearts are open.

I love it that the expectation of the birth of Jesus began way back in the Old Testament.

The prophets were amazingly in tune. 

Micah 5:2. New King James Version

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,

Yet out of you shall come forth to Me

The One (capital O) to be Ruler in Israel,

Whose goings forth are from of old,

From everlasting.”

Ephrathah means fruitful – and this is speaking of the Bethlehem in the Judean hills, not that far from Jerusalem – where of course, Jesus was to be born.

Micah spoke these words about 700 years before Jesus was born. 

And even earlier than the time of the prophet Micah – around 800 years before Jesus – Isaiah also had an incredible and accurate glimpse into His birth:

Isaiah 9:6.  New King James Version

“For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Imagine prophesying with such clarity – the coming of the Messiah, many centuries before He was to actually arrive!

And again – in later chapters of Isaiah, speaking as with the voice of the Lord, he says:

Isaiah 61:1.  New King James Version

 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

Eight hundred years later, Jesus Himself would stand in the synagogue and quote these words – and say that today this scripture is fulfilled. 

Do you know – the spirit of prophecy in relation to Jesus is a vital and overwhelmingly powerful revelation – whether it came as an inner knowing to the Old Testament prophets – or through a dream or vision –  or even through the voice of an angel.

It’s like the prophetic was electric when it came to Jesus – and there are many more instances of prophetic words about Jesus – words about him being called out of Egypt, which is of course where his parents fled for His protection after He was born.  

While He was there, many babies were killed, because the Romans were paranoid about the Jewish Messiah turning up on the scene.

In relation to that, the prophet Jeremiah saw it coming …

Jeremiah 31:15.   New King James Version

Thus says the Lord:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,

Lamentation and bitter weeping,

Rachel weeping for her children,

Refusing to be comforted for her children,

Because they are no more.”

So this supernatural story includes the evil as well as the good.  There was a battle of epic proportions going on spiritually.  And that battle continues.  It will continue until Jesus comes again a second time – but this time it will be as King of kings and Lord of lords –  and every enemy will be defeated in a moment.

There were other prophetic words about a virgin conceiving and giving birth to a son.  Words about distant kings giving Him presents.  

It’s an amazing unfolding of prophetic words over centuries…

We should be standing in awe at how all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were positioned – involving generations of prophetic people.  It could only be the Spirit of God that could possibly weave it all together.

But all this was heightened as the birth of the Messiah – Jesus – became imminent.

We find out later that a devout and righteous old man named Simeon, who had the Holy Spirit upon him, and who served in the temple, had been told that the “Consolation of Israel” was to come before he died.  Which is exactly what happened.  The consolation means the comfort.

Perhaps that’s a word that is still speaking for you this Christmas.  Jesus is here to bring comfort to you – to console you.

Christmas can bring up some difficult emotions – loneliness, rejection, deep emotional hurts, grief….  But there is supernatural comfort and healing for those of us who seek Jesus in the midst of our natural relationships – and our natural grief.   And there is comfort to heal memories of the past…

There was also an elderly woman named Anna who was prophesying that the Christ child would be the “Redemption of Israel.”   Jesus was brought to the temple while she was there as well.  Again, the Holy Spirit was at work – preparing – revealing – identifying this child as the One who would redeem the lost.

If you are feeling locked in – trapped – emotionally bound in any way – maybe you’ve even lost your way a bit – then Christmas speaks of redemption, forgiveness and freedom.  It’s supernatural.  It’s spiritual.  And this healing is here for us to embrace.

If you struggle every Christmas with feelings of anxiety or apprehension – don’t just cover it up.  Bring it to Jesus.  Find comfort – find redemption.

Just a little side note here:

I just want to clarify that 25 December is most likely not the date Jesus was born.  I’m sure you know that.  No one knows the real date.

But it’s not about the date.  It’s about the Person of Jesus.  It’s about spiritually what His birth means to us.  We could celebrate in July and it would mean the same thing.  

I’ve heard religious arguments from Jehovahs Witnesses about whether He died on a cross or on a pole or a tree.  Does it matter?  The fact is He died… for our sins.  His death means our forgiveness and salvation.

And His coming to earth as a baby is part of the redemptive story.  God coming down to us.  Intervening on or behalf –  for our sake.  

He is Immanuel.  Which literally means God is with us.  God came to be with us in the form of a baby.

That’s why we celebrate Christmas!

And the supernatural Christmas story continues as Mary is visited by an angel:

Luke 1:35.  New King James Version

“And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

You see – there He is again.  The Holy Spirit – overshadowing Mary.  His supernatural presence resting upon her….  I love it that the Holy Spirit is so much a part of the Christmas story.  

The angel goes on to say – with God, nothing is impossible!

Perhaps that is your word for this season.  With God, nothing is impossible!  Dare to believe.  Dare to put your faith in His overshadowing presence.  

Not to become pregnant necessarily – although if that’s what you’re believing for…  

Some of you ladies have a look of horror on your face.  

I’m sure His overshadowing presence is here for us to birth many other impossible and supernatural blessings in our lives, besides just babies.

On Christmas Eve we’re going to do our traditional little thing we do at Seacoast – where you will have the opportunity to light a candle – or 2 or 3…. Not because it’s a nice religious thing to do – but because we do it as a Prophetic act – a prayer – to bring light to shine on our dreams and visions for the coming year.  Or to bring light to those places of healing that still need to happen within.  Or maybe even to remember a loved one that is no longer with us.

When you see all those candles alight together – representing the things of our heart – it really is like a huge prayer going up to God.  

So then there’s Joseph’s response in the story.  

He really wanted to do the right thing by Mary.  He thought that perhaps it might be helpful for her to quietly disappear for a while to have the baby.  But again, an angel had it all sorted.

Matthew 1:20-21.   New King James Version

“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is [a]conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name [b]Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

What a man!  Even though his mind must have been doing somersaults, He was totally obedient to the angel’s words – and dealt with what must have been enormous ridicule and judgement by family, friends, even strangers.

I really feel for Joseph.  Do you know why?

Some things in life are difficult for people to understand – and they make their judgements – they take sides – they are quick to persecute – based on the limited and often misconstrued or one sided information that is before them.

We can all do it.  And it can cause the deepest hurt when others misjudge you – condemn you – even misrepresent you to other people…. And all the while, you aren’t able defend yourself because what you know isn’t appropriate to share – or it would only cause others more pain – or like Jospeh, many wouldn’t believe the truth even if you told them.

Joseph in my books was a big man.  Obviously God chose him for a reason to support Mary and to be her husband.

But if you carry that kind of unresolved hurt or have suffered those kinds of unnecessary judgements – right now would be a good time to lay it all down.

Like I said recently – let it go!  Just let it go!

And if you may have judged another because you suspect now you didn’t have the complete story – if your heart has shifted – let forgiveness flood over you right now.

There is supernatural healing and reconciliation to be had this Christmas.  Let the Holy Spirit continue to work in and through you as He has done throughout the centuries.

Some of my favourite characters in the Christmas story are the shepherds.

Why the shepherds?  How on earth did they get an invite?

What would cause a host of heavenly angels – enough to fill the entire sky – to reveal themselves to a few shepherds?

The shepherds were doing what they normally do – watching over the sheep – protecting them from wild animals.

Luke 2:9-14.     New King James Version

“And [a]behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a [b]manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill[c] toward men!”

This was really the official heavenly announcement that the Messiah had been born.  The people of Israel had been waiting for this moment for hundreds and hundreds of years.

And I believe it is very significant that the angels came to the shepherds to let the world know.

It just fits with everything else.  Jesus being born to an insignificant young girl in an insignificant village.  Being born in a stable – sleeping in an animal food trough.  

The whole thing speaks of humility – simplicity…

The shepherds themselves were the lowliest of all people.  In fact they were despised and looked down upon by many simply because of their lowly role and place in society.

The proclamation wasn’t made to the religious men.  This wasn’t about religion.  It was about love – the fruition of many prophetic words spoken over the centuries.  It was about salvation – Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

No wonder the religious elite had trouble accepting Jesus.  Their pride would have been battered and bruised.  

But this scripture from 1Corinthians says it all:

1 Corinthians 1:27.   New King James Version

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;”

God chose the shepherds.  He chose the unlovely. The outcasts. The lowliest of all.

Perhaps when the angels said we have a message of great joy for all people – they knew that message would be reinforced by giving it to the shepherds – because of all people, they were the least.  If they were included – then definitely all people were included.

And here we are over 2,000 years later.  The message is the same.  God’s ways are still the same.

He reaches out to the humble – the broken – those that society sees as least.

He makes His proclamations to the ones who have no pride – no ulterior motives – no self ambitions – no glory of their own.

If you feel that you fit that description – then I believe the Holy Spirit always has something to say and something to proclaim.  You are well positioned.

Don’t despise your lowly place of humility.

I wonder if another reason the angels chose the shepherds is because they actually work with the sheep.  They knew what it meant for a lamb to be born and raised – only to be sent to be slaughtered.

It would only be 33 years later that John the Baptist would look at Jesus and proclaim:

John 1:29.    New King James Version

“……“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The birth of Jesus – the reason we celebrate Christmas – is only part of an incredible and glorious story of redemption.  

Jesus is the Lamb – the sacrificial Lamb – Who died in our place.

This is all part of the wonder and awe of Christmas.

The baby grew. He became fully man – and yet at the same time, fully the Son of God.

The story could never be put together over centuries and centuries – and remain the gospel of salvation for all who receive Him – unless God Himself intricately wove it all together – by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Since recognising all these things myself a number of years ago – Christmas for me has never been the same…. It has meant so much more – and the wonder has increased exponentially.

I’m thinking that when we come back together to celebrate this Christmas Eve in a few days time, the message will have a lot to do with being thankful.  Having a heart of gratitude.

We need to take at least a moment over Christmas to give thanks to God for all He has done for us –  and for the fact that He has kept us.

We have no church service next Sunday – so let’s make Christmas Eve something really special.  Let’s bring glory to Him in every way we can.

Amen.


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