“This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”
Candle Lighter: “Christ Jesus came into the world…”
Response: “…to save sinners.”
Scripture: I Timothy 1:15-17
15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.
I Timothy 2:1-7
2 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For,
There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.
This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 7 And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
We have mentioned at other times the importance of seeing the Nativity in its true context. It is also significant that our children and grandchildren, in the midst of joy, excitement, and presents, begin to realize why the baby Jesus came to earth. We must connect the Nativity, the Passion, the Ascension, Pentecost, and the Return. Now that might be a bit much for a five year old! But, Paul has reduced the mission of God in Christ to “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” A five year old can realize this baby Jesus came to save them. Paul then reminds us of his horrible past. He consented to murder of Christians. He’s making a strong case that our past is not a liability in becoming a believer in Jesus. In the second passage you read, Paul helps us see the significance of the birth of Jesus with his words “there is only one God and one Mediator who an reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus,” the baby born in a manger in Bethlehem. His life and death (Christmas and Easter) purchase freedom and eternal life for everyone who would believe. Paul’s use of the words “one God and one Mediator” would have registered significantly with the Jewish believers, reminding them of the Shema. (“Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.”) There is one other phrase to comment on. “God gave to the world at just the right time.” We’ve talked about the word kairos, meaning at an opportune time. In the mystery and wonder of God, who is outside of time yet encompasses all of time, he moves, for reasons known only to himself, into his universe appearing on a tiny speck of a planet in one of a hundred billion galaxies at a particular moment in human time, and at just the right time! We must assume, since it was God acting, the perfect time. If this entrance of Jesus Christ into our world was God’s perfect time and plan, we should definitely pay attention and not be totally consumed with tinsel! What’s more, at just the right time, God extends his offer of salvation and redemption to all. When is that right time? As Paul writes elsewhere in II Corinthians, “Now is the day of salvation.” Perhaps today you’ll have opportunity to share this bigger context of Christmas with someone you meet!
Music: “Children Go Where I Send Thee” Home Free and Kenny Rogers
www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4qNaAlZ1xc&list=PLY-HJUkWgmopM0NiNA8dhWLyCZ6upQE5N&index=3 DO NOT MISS THIS!
Sovereign God, Thy cause, not my own, engages my heart, and I appeal to thee with greatest freedom to set up thy kingdom in every place where Satan reigns; glorify thyself and I shall rejoice, for to bring honor to thy name is my sole desire. I adore thee that thou art God, and long that others should know it, feel it, and rejoice in it. O, that all men might love and praise thee, that thou mightest have all glory from the intelligent world! Let sinners be brought to thee for thy dear name! To the eye of reason everything respecting the conversion of others is as dark as midnight, but thou canst accomplish great things; the cause is thine, and it is to thy glory that men should be saved. Lord, use me as thou wilt, do with me what thou wilt; but, O, promote thy cause, let thy kingdom come, let thy blessed interest be advanced in this world! O do thou bring in great numbers to Jesus! Let me see that glorious day, and give me to grasp for multitudes of souls; let me be willing to die to that end; and while I live let me labor for thee to the utmost of my strength, spending time profitable in this work, both in health and in weakness. It is thy cause and kingdom I long for, not my own. O, answer thou my request! Amen.
― from The Valley of Vision, p.177
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