Isaiah 12:1-6 Celebrating Christ This Christmas

Isaiah 12:1-6 Celebrating Christ This Christmas December 16, 2015

Isaiah 12:1-6 Celebrating Christ This Christmas

Many people are going to celebrate during this Christmas season. The Jews will celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Others will celebrate Kwanzaa. Even Muslims will celebrate the birth of their prophet Mohammed on December 24, 2015. (Because they follow the lunar calendar, his birthday falls on Christmas Eve.) But as a Christian, how should I celebrate Christmas? From this passage in Isaiah, we can see different ways to celebrate and focus on God’s Son during the Christmas season.

HOW TO CELEBRATE CHRIST THIS CHRISTMAS1

1. I can praise God because He has compassion on me (Isaiah 12:1-2)

On that day you will say: “I will praise You, Lord, although You were angry with me. Your anger has turned away, and You have had compassion on me. Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”” (Isaiah 12:1–2, HCSB)

Because God’s wrath and anger were turned away completely on the cross, He has the ability to share His compassion everyday.

Because of the Lords faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22–23, HCSB)

2. I can trust God for eternity because He is my salvation (Isaiah 12:2)

Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”” (Isaiah 12:2, HCSB)

The Lord will never forsake His people. No matter how difficult the days may be, or how long the nights, for the people of God, the best is yet to come.2

I can trust God today, tomorrow, and forever because He has saved me from an eternal destiny in Hell.

““For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, HCSB)

One of the most comforting truths in all the Bible to me as I travel from one part of the world to another,” evangelist Billy Graham once said, “is to know that God has stationed His heavenly guards to protect, guide, and lead me through life’s dangerous way. I cannot see these beings with my physical eyes, but I sense they are present every day.”3

If I believe that He can save me from an eternal punishment in Hell, then I can certainly walk in faith with Him today.

The one who became incarnate is “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God.” The reason he became incarnate is “for us and our salvation he came down from heaven … for our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate.4

3. I don’t have to fear what happens today because God is my strength (Isaiah 12:2)

Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”” (Isaiah 12:2, HCSB)

Charles Spurgeon uses two biblical examples to show how one’s faith can grow to be stronger and more complete. The first is David, who says, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). The second example is Isaiah, who says, “I will trust and not be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2).

Charles Spurgeon compares the faith of these two men to medicines, with Isaiah’s being the stronger brand. He tells about a man who got the chills but gave thanks for the prescription that helped him through them. A neighbor said, “Thankful for that? I have something that would keep you from getting the chills in the first place!” If you have a faith that helps you deal with fear, said Spurgeon, good for you. But why not go after a higher-grade faith that is fear resistant?[102]56

The key to trusting God is not fear. Trust and fear are opposites. God has loved me and He wants me to love Him. Because God has loved me by saving me, I can trust Him forever. But God also loves me today. So I can choose to trust Him and not fear. Loving God means I trust him. This loving trust casts out fear.

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.” (1 John 4:18, HCSB)

Because God has taken care of my sin problem and I don’t need to be judged for it,

In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world.” (1 John 4:17, HCSB)

I can choose to do this because God is love.

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” (1 John 4:16, HCSB)

His love strengthens me.

So this gets me in the right mood for Christmas. I can choose to celebrate God.

4. I can celebrate Who God is this Christmas season. (Isaiah 12:3)

You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation,” (Isaiah 12:3, HCSB)

The key to Christmas is to make the holiday an opportunity to show people why we focus on Christ. How do I joyfully “draw water from the springs of my salvation?” If Jesus is the source of my salvation and Christmas is the celebration of that Source, how can I show someone why Christmas is important to me? I can verbally express my love for Jesus Christ in the following ways when I celebrate this Christmas:

EXPRESSING MY LOVE FOR CHRIST THIS CHRISTMAS

1. I can thank God for Christmas in a society that increasingly desires to turn a holy day into a materialistic secular celebration.

and on that day you will say: “Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name! Celebrate His works among the peoples. Declare that His name is exalted.” (Isaiah 12:4, HCSB)

It is to help bring us to this realization that the church celebrates Advent—a season of expectation and preparation. Advent’s deeper meaning is largely lost today, as the church’s seasons become increasingly marginal to the secular contexts of our lives. Our preparations for Christmas are mostly external, and are focused on the celebration. We have many things to do: shopping, housecleaning, exchanging greetings, going to obligatory parties and social gatherings. Many preachers rightly remind us every year of the danger, in our situation, of missing the point. If we are to be touched by the celebration of the coming of God, if we are to make it an occasion to greet God in our lives, we need a very different sort of preparation: prayer, aloneness with God, the setting of priorities in our lives, opening our spirits and making room in ourselves for God’s coming anew.7

2. I can proclaim God’s name by reminding people that Christmas is about Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

and on that day you will say: “Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name! Celebrate His works among the peoples. Declare that His name is exalted.” (Isaiah 12:4, HCSB)

I can celebrate Christmas for the right reasons – the birth of Jesus and His life, death, burial and resurrection. These are great works God has done through His Son (Isaiah 12:4).

3. I can sing Christmas carols in praise to God (Isaiah 12:5).

Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things. Let this be known throughout the earth.” (Isaiah 12:5, HCSB)

The Christmas season is the best time to hear about Jesus Christ on secular media. You can turn on the radio and hear songs about the birth of Jesus. Yes, there are songs about Santa, Rudolf, and wintertime. But we can hear Christmas carols. Christian parents and grandparents can use these songs as an opportunity to teach about Jesus Christ and the real meaning of Christmas.

4. I can share the story of Christmas with others to tell others the story of Jesus (Isaiah 12:5).

Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things. Let this be known throughout the earth.” (Isaiah 12:5, HCSB)

Jesus Christ is the “Holy One of Israel.” He has “become flesh and walked among us”.

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, HCSB)

Jesus has been great in my life. I want to take time to remember that at Christmas time.

Cry out and sing, citizen of Zion, for the Holy One of Israel is among you in His greatness.”” (Isaiah 12:6, HCSB)

There is a tension in this text, which we are now experiencing as Christians. The Holy One of Israel has already come but He will return again.8

Drawing from the Well

Several years ago Mike Blackaby, (son of Richard Blackaby and grandson of Henry Blackaby) traveled to Qatar with my father Richard. We entered the gated community and were met by guards carrying giant guns. One of them broke off from the others and started marching toward us. Oh, no, I thought, we just broke some obscure Middle Eastern law! However, the man grinned broadly as he leaned into the driver’s-side window. “Welcome, my friends!” He looked to the backseat: “You must be Mike! My name is James!” He greeted us with a radiant smile all week every time we came or went from the complex.

That week was a flurry of activity. I met fascinating people, led Bible studies, ate sheep brains (which did NOT taste like chicken), and even got to drive a quad through sand dunes overlooking the Persian Gulf. The day we left, James dropped in to say good-bye. That’s when I learned his story.

James was originally from Sudan, Africa, where he suffered persecution for his Christianity. He was forced from his home and his job and eventually found work in Qatar. He sent his small wages home to his wife and children whom he had to leave behind in the Sudan. He was allowed to return home once every two years to see them. James worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week, trying to earn enough money to bring his family to join him. He bunked in a small concrete room with three other men. He owned nothing. His coworkers regularly mocked him for his Christian faith and taunted him about his situation. At one point a man offered James more money than he could make in a year if he would renounce Christ and adopt a different religion. James refused. The last thing he said to us, with a smile on his face, was, “But I’m a Christian, and no one can take that from me!”

Isaiah 12:3 says, “You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation.” James understood joy. Do we? Have we lost the wonder of our salvation? That same well, which is the love of Christ, offers us an abundance of water, yet many of us are needlessly parched with thirst.9

How will you celebrate who God is this Christmas season?

1 Jim Erwin, “Celebrating Christmas,” Lectionary Reflections Year C (2015-2016), 11 December 2015, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/12/11/celebrating-christmas/, accessed on 11 December 2015.

2 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Comforted, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 41.

3 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 27.

4 Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 35.

5[102] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Fearing and Trusting — Trusting and Not Fearing,” Sermons on the Psalms (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1963).

6 David Jeremiah, What Are You Afraid of? Facing down Your Fears with Faith (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2013).

7 Richard Viladesau, Homilies for the Sundays of Advent and Lent, vol. 4, The Word in and out of Season (New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1996), 59.

8 Brevard S. Childs, Isaiah: A Commentary, ed. William P. Brown, Carol A. Newsom, and Brent A. Strawn, 1st ed., The Old Testament Library (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 110.

9 Mike Blackaby and Daniel Blackaby, When Worlds Collide (Nashville: B&H, 2011).

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