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Service Archives > Christmas Messages > A One-Star Hotel in Bethlehem

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A One-Star Hotel in Bethlehem - Matthew 2:1-12

Taught on | Topic: Christmas | Keywords: Bethlehem, Birth, Christmas, Herod, maggoi, Wise Men
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12/28/2008
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A One-Star Hotel in Bethlehem
Matthew 2:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Messages

This collection of Christmas messages from over the years focuses on the birth of Jesus Christ—"Immanuel, which is translated, 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:23). You'll be encouraged to keep your eyes on Christ no matter the season.

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Would you open your Bibles tonight to Matthew chapter 2. Matthew chapter 2. We're going to look at the first eleven verses of this very familiar story. "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, 'Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him.' When Herod the king heard these things he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and the scribes of the people together he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, in Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet, 'But you Bethlehem in the land of Judah are not the least among the rulers of Judah for out of you shall come a ruler who shall shepherd my people Israel.' Then Herod when he had secretly called the wise men determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and search diligently for the young child and when you have found him bring back word to me that I may come and worship him also.' When they heard the king they departed for behold the star which they had seen in the east went before them until it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house they saw the young child with Mary his mother and fell down and worshipped him. When they had opened their treasures they presented gifts to him, gold, frankincense and myrrh." Now the title of this message tongue-ini-cheek is "A One-Star Hotel in Bethlehem." And of course I'm not referring to the rating system of hotels, the one to five stars given, but following THE star, this great wonder in the sky that led these foreign worshippers to find the Christ child and to indeed worship him. I did check out however the rating system, I was interested in it. I got on-line and checked what one star, what two-star, what three-star, what up to five-star hotels look like. And according to the website a one-star hotel is an economy hotel. It is usually near a highway, you can only make local calls in that hotel room, restaurants are nearby but not part of the hotel package and there's no room service. So actually this sort of fits because where they were staying is a one-star hotel, in Bethlehem. Now some of you are thinking about this, "Skip, I don't know if you know this or not, news flash, Christmas is over, the whole Bethlehem-wise men thing, that's so last week." Well that's sort of my whole point because the event that we're reading about didn't happen at Christmas. It happened much later. In fact you'll notice in verse 1, it says, "Now after Jesus was born." And it wasn't just a day or so after, it seemed to be quite some time, several months some think up to a year or so. Because if you go down to verse 11 we find, "When they had come into the house." You see they're not in a stable, they're not in a cave, they're not in a manger any more. This time they have moved from that temporary situation now into a house. So by now Jesus has been circumcised, he has been presented in the temple, Mary has offered the offerings of purification and we know this took place much later than that because had they received the gifts from the wise men when Jesus was presented in the temple and later when Mary was purified, remember what the couple gave? They gave two turtle doves. According to the law that was what the very poor could offer if they couldn't afford a lamb. Well if they'd gotten these gifts before that they would have had plenty of money to afford any kind of a lamb. So this took place much much later. Which means we should probably sing that old song that we never sing around here, "We Three Kings of Orient Are," we should start singing it in a few months because that would really fit the chronology. 
But there's another reason fort his message. You know, as Christians we don't celebrate Jesus Christ once a year, for a day. We celebrate Jesus Christ all year long every day. And I think this is a very appropriate message because I want to explore the story and consider how we celebrate Christ now that Christmas is over.
For Christmas night we want over to my father-in-law's house here in Albuquerque and right on the table, the dining room table, is a little announcement that he puts up every year. It's a birthday invitation, it reads thus: "You are cordially invited to a birthday celebration. Guest of honor: Jesus Christ. Date: Every day. Traditionally December 25th but he's always around so the date is flexible. Time: Whenever you're ready. Please don't be late though or you'll miss out on all the fun. Place: In your heart, he'll meet you there, you'll hear him knock." Now I think you know this by now but we have really over time messed up the whole Christmas story. And one of the big culprits unfortunately are Christmas carols, especially the one that deals with these guys. And probably no group has suffered more confusion than the wise men, especially when it comes to that Christmas carol. Now that is a Christmas carol "We Three Kings..." that came about in 1857 by an Episcopal clergyman who wrote, "We three kings of Orient are, Bearing gifts we traverse afar." And so we listen to that and we think, "Wow, I can see it, I can picture those three kings." Wrong, wrong, wrong. We don't know how many there were, there probably were a lot more than three, we think or the Christmas carol says three because they brought three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, so the tradition has come to be three. But it must have been an entourage of people because their presence in Jerusalem shook up Herod the Great and entire city. And they probably weren't traveling on camels but a host of Arabian steeds. And they weren't from the Orient like Viet Nam or Thailand or India or China, they were from the east of Israel, but more Babylon, Mesopotamia. But this story will show us the difference I believe between the truly wise person when it comes to relating to Christ versus the truly foolish person. Galatians chapter 5 verse 15 reads thus, "See then that you walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise." We want to learn how to do that in this story. 
Now to do that we have to fill ins ome of the historical blanks. We want to strip away some of the baggage from the songs and the Christmas cards and find out who these guys were. Probably a more accurate song of who they were would sound something like this: "We hug entourage of parthy and astronomers from Iran bearing gifts we traverse afar." Of course that never would have passed the song-writing committee, so we're left with the other one.
But tonight there's just a few things I want you to notice with me as we look at the text. First of all, the wise men's question. They come all the way from where they came from, we'll discover that in a minute, to Jerusalem and they have a very, very important question. We want to consider that. Then, we want to look at the foolish men's reaction. And then finally, what should be all men's adoration. 
So let's go back to the first couple verses and just notice how it's laid out. We'll unpack it. "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold (or, hey check this out) wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, 'Where is he who has been born the king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east and we have come to worship him.'" These guys seem to have come out of nowhere. All of a sudden Jesus is born, that's introduced in the last verse of chapter 1 and then suddenly out of nowhere these wise men come to Jerusalem. And they must have been important because they gain an audience with the king, Herod. And what they say to him shakes him up as well as the rest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 
Now we already touched on a few but as years went by myths developed around the identity of these characters. In fact in the Middle Ages they were given names. And I notice that some of thse names are placed in movies about the life of Christ. It's legend, it's myth, but their names according to those myths are Casper, Belfazar and Melchior. And around the twelfth century there was German bishop from Cologne, Germany by the name of Reynauld of Cologne who claims that he dug around and he actually found the three skulls of the wise men, in Germany. And he says, "I know it was them because their eyeballs were still in their sockets and they were fixed toward Bethlehem." All of that is just myth. It was just stuff that was added in to embellish the story.
It reminds me of a Sunday School teacher who was teaching a class the Christmas story and she would stop part way through to make sure the kids would understand it, so she came to this story and asked them questions. She said, "and what do we call the three wise men?" And one little five-year-old boy said, "they're called the three maggots." And she was non-plussed by this and she said, "and what were the gifts that the three magi brought to Jesus?" And the same five-year-old piped up and said, "Gold, frankincense, and Smurfs." Well unfortunately theologically-inclined adults haven't done a whole lot better that some of those kids.
They're called here in our verse "wise men from the east." Wise men, in Greek maggoi, not maggots, maggoi, wise men. History tells us they were from ancient Medo-Persia. And an historian, a Greek historian by the name of Heroditus says they were a priestly caste of the Medes from Parthia and Mesopotamia or Babylon. Now get this, originally historians believed they were Zoro-Astrians. I don't know if you've heard of that religion before, but ancient Zoro-Astrianism believed in one God by the name of Ahora Mazda who gave the gift of light or fire to humanity and thus their primary altar of worship had this eternal flame that burned on it. So they would be keenly atuned to any bright light or star activity, that was part of their worship system. Now this system of worship Zoro-Astrianism is stil practiced by a few in India known as Parses who claim to be direct descendants of the magi. Their worship system in ancient days was very closely paralleling Jewish worship in many cases, they believed there was one single God, they believed in animal sacrifices that were very close to the ones that we find in the Old Testament scripture, they even had the same clean and unclean animal designation. But they were still pagans. They were sorceres, they were diviners, they were astrologers as well as astronomers, it was sort of a weird combination of looking at the stars and applying their knowledge of mathematics and limited knowledge of science and sorcery to predict the future. And because of that our word magic or magician comes from the ancient term magi. But they were more than that, they were very knowledgeable and considered to be wise, hence the term wise men. So much so that governments were influenced by them and kings would often seek out their wisdom. And so the term megistrate and master come originally from the term magi as well. 
As we go back through istory we discover that this group of wise men or magi were present in a very particular and interesting Old Testament court, the court of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who would cull the world, whenever he would take over a nation, and get the very best young men and train them up for this honored position, so that he could have the wisdom of the world at his fingertips. They were considered among the highest ranking officers in Nebuchadnezzar's court. And you know the story that Daniel interprets a dream one day for Nebuchadnezzar and because of that he spares the life of all of the magi, the wise men of Babylon. So Daniel becomes the chief of them at one point in history, this is Daniel chapter 2 verse 48, "Nebuchadnezzar made him (Daniel) ruler over the whole area of Babylon and put him in charge of all of the wise men of Babylon." Isn't it cool to think that at one point in history, the Jewish prophet Daniel influenced this group of wise men. That was part of their historical context.
Now notice something, notice their question in verse 2, they say, "Where is he who has been born the king of the Jews?" Why would they ask that kind of a question? They weren't Jewish, they were from hundreds of miles to the east. Why would they ask the question, 'Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?' I believe it's because Daniel primed their pump. Remember Daniel was given the great prophecies of the coming ruler, the coming Messiah, who would rule Israel and eventually rule the world. Daniel chapter 2, Daniel chapter 4, Daniel, chapter 7, later on Daniel chapter 9. Also, when the Jews returned to Israel after the captivity, most of them stayed there, remained there for years leaving their scriptures there. And I believe that through history because of the influence of Daniel they were searching some of the very prophecies that were left in the scriptures. Scriptures like Numbers chapter 2, verse 17, "A star will come from Jacob and a ruler will arise from Israel." Or Isaiah chapter 9 verse 2, "the pople who walked in darkness have seen a great light. And those who dwell in the shadow of death, a great light has shined." Or Isaiah chapter 60 verse 3, "The Gentiles (speaking of Messiah) shall come to your light and the kings to the brightness of your rising." So whatever it was they applied their scientific mathematical approach and all that they knew that Daniel taught them was divinely given to them, this astronomical wonder and they came to Bethlehem, all the way from Babylon. All the way from Iraq, all the way from Iran where they were postured. And they come. And they follow a star. Now you probably noticed this, it seems that every Christmas a few astronomers will lend their knowledge to try to identify what this star really was. And nobody really knows exactly what it was. Here's some guesses: Some say it was a strong appearance of the planet Jupiter. Others say it was a conjunction of two planets together forming the sign of a fish. Others say it was a low-hanging meteor in the night sky. And still others say it was a comet in the Earth's rotation. We don't really know. There is however a very interesting DVD that has been circulating, I was given a copy, called The Star of Bethlehem, and in that DVD they purport that the sign, the star that they were looking at was a sign that took place in the constellation of the lion in the night sky which according to the ancients was the constellation that referred to the nation of Israel and from what they saw in that constellation they knew a king would be born to the Jews. And also in that DVD there was movement in the constellation of Virgo, the virgin, hence the virgin birth of the king of the Jews. It's a fascinating DVD, I don't know if I buy into it, but nonetheless, that's not the point.
Exactly what it was is inconsequential to the story. What Matthew wants us to know is that here you've got a group of dignitaries who were not Jewish, were Zoro-Astrians and they knew that there was somebody born the king of the Jews when by and large the Jews were unwarre of it. They came from afar expecting everybody to have the answer Where is he who has been born the king of the Jews? Now that's the wise men's question.
I want you now to look at the reaction. And I'm going to lump up both categories as the foolish men's reaction. First of all Herod the king. "When Herod the king (verse 3) heard these things (notice) he was troubled." Better word, he was agitated, better word, he was shaken to the core, really perturbed. He didn't go, "Huh, well that kind of bums me out." No, he was really shaken up by it, he was perturbed. Why is that? Well, because the question, "Where is he who has been born the king of the Jews?" Listen, he was perturbed because he didn't want any competition. That was a name that he was called. I don't know if you know that or not but Herod was called by the Roman government the king of the Jews and he wanted to hold on to that position as best as he could. And the idea of a Jewish --born king threatened him.
Now let me give you a little background quickly on Herod. Herod the Not-so-Great. Herod the Not-so-Great (called Herod the Great) was not Jewish. He was Idumean which was a country just east of Jerusalem over in Jordan. Now his father by the name of Antipeter did Rome a favor and because of that favor Julius Caesar placed his dad Antipeter as the ruler of Judea. And as years went by and his son Herod started coming up through the ranks, the Roman government gave him the title Herod the Great, king of the Jews. So, anybody that threatened that position he killed. Herod the Great killed his wife, his Jewish-Hasminean wife, she was a descendant of the Maccabee clan Miriamne. He killed her, killed his brother-in-law and killed his two eldest sons lest they would try to occupy the throne as the king of the Jews. In fact, let me just tell you how sick and wrong this guy was. When he was sick and knew that he didn't have much time to live, he was on his deathbed, he commanded that ll the prominent citizens of Jerusalem be arrested, all of the bigwigs, all of the notable influential people. Trumped them up on false charges and locked them up and said, "Now I know that when I die nobody will shed a tear for me, but I want to make sure that there are tears shed at my death. So as soon as I die, kill all those that you've locked up." That's how crazy he was. And because of that a saying was circulated and it became a very famous, infamous, saying that it was safer to be Herod's pig than it was to be Herod's son, because he didn't spare anyone who was a threat. So Herod panics. The idea of a Jewish-born king. He didn't want to lose control.
Now he was foolish, history bears that out. And then there's another group that I say are foolish and they are the religious folks, they're the chief priests and the scribes. So listen, Herod's all bent out of shape. And verse 4, when he gathered all the chief priests and the scribes of the people together he inquired of them where this Messiah was to be born. So now this sort of got his juices going, he's curious. And notice, they didn't have to think about it, there was an immediate response. "So they said to him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea for thus it is written by the prophet, 'But you Bethlehem in the land of Judah are not the least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'" Now who are these people? These are the religious elite, these are the hierarchy of the temple, these are the theologitcal scholars of the day who must be getting a paycheck from Herod or at least they have some kind of sympathetic ties to him. And it's really amazing to me, that a) they knew the Jewish expectation for a coming Messiah. B) They could quote Micah chapter 5 verse 2 off the top of their heads seemingly. And they knew that prophetic scripture, but they didn't go check it out. Now here's a little perspective, Bethlehem is 4, 4.5 miles away from Jerusalem. It's easy to walk to, a lot of people still do it. These wise men have traveled across the world, the known world, they've literally gone to the other side of the inhabited world from where they were at, spending time, many months; money, energy, to check it out. These religious guys can't even get to their feet and see what's happening in the next town. Foolish. They could quote scirpture, they knew it by heart but they didn't check it out. You know what? Some people think that knowing the Bible is enough. You've met people like that, they can quote it, they memorize it, they get in groups, they have their assignments, they learn the original languages. Everything except keeping it, doing it, getting up and obeying it. That was the problem with these unwise religious rulers.
Amos chapter 6, verse 1 addresses apathy that I think really fits here with these religious rulers of Mount Zion of Jerusalem. Amos chapter 6 verse 1 simply says, "Woe (or Oi is the Hebrew) Oi, Woe to those who are at ease in Zion." There's sort of a famous saying, it was quoted by a scholar in Britain years ago who saw the decline of the church in England. And he was speaking of the state-run churches in England and said, "We have been inoculated with a mild form of religion so as to make us immune from the real thing." Quite an indictment. "Inoculated with a mild form of religion so that now we're immune from the real thing." I think that could be said of many churches in the United States of America, don't you? There's so much Bible study, so much available knowledge on television, on radio and in books and we get fascinated by a new theory and a new spin on it. I remember what Jesus said to his disciples the night he washed their feet and was teaching them about servanthood. He said, "If you know things, happy are you if you do them." That was the disconnect with these religious rulers.
Now I know somebody might be hearing this, maybe on the radio; certainly not here I know you guys are all spiritual, but, they're thinking, "Look at, I appreciate what you're saying preacher but I'm not a fanatic. I believe in Christ, I follow him, but I'm no fanatic." And listen I understand blind fanaticism can be a problem but cooling down a fanatic is a lot easier than warming up a corpse. There was no life in these people. They couldn't even get up and go, "Really? These guys came from the east. At least let's just tag along and check it out." It's like (yawn) yes, yeah you know what the Bible says, Micah 6:8, yeah, yeah that's it. Right there in Bethlehem." They didn't do anything.
Now let's finish out the story. Here's what is the proper adoration of all men. Well they get to the house, the wise men, verse 11, "And when they had come into the house and they saw the young child with Mary his mother and fell down and worshipped him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to him; gold, frankincense and myrrh. What I want you to notice is their worship began before they gave any gifts. Now just picture these notable, royal, smart, esteemed visitors getting on their knees and bowing. That's what they did, they bowed, that's the Greek word proscuneo, they bowed themselves or prostrated themselves before that little child, as an act of worship, as an act of humility. They gave themselves in worship before they gave any kind of monetary gift. Now understand something: God is way more interested in your heart than he is your money. God wants you more than he wants your year-end gift. He wants your heart, he wants you to commit your life to him personally and do what these wise men did. 
Now I'm going to date myself here but there's an old song by Keith Green with a classic line in it. He said, "To obey is better than sacrifice. I don't need your money, I want your life." And that's what these wise men were saying when they were worshipping. "We have come to worship him." And when they saw the child they indeed worshipped him. And they gave three notable gifts. They gave gold, that was the metal of the kings. The ancient custom was if you're going to ever stand before a king you must always bring a gift and the best thing to gifve a king would be gold. No doubt Joseph and Mary took this gold and that funded what happens in the next several verses is they make their way down to Egypt. They had to pay for that long journey in Egypt and what it costs to stay down there and no doubt this gold paid for that. 
Notice second on the list, frankincense. A very very costly fragrance from the east. But anybody Jewish reading this would know that frankincense was used in the meal offering by the priesthood of Israel. And so as gold reminds us that Jesus is the king and they knew that, whereas he who is king of Jews; frankincense speaks of the great high priesthood of Jesus Christ. 
I was reading Job this morning where Job was crying out in chapter 9 to God, he goes, "Only, if only there was a mediator, a daysman between you and me who could lay his hand on both of us." He wanted a mediator. That's what a priest is, a mediator. There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. And frankincense speaks to that. He's the mediator, he's the priest. And finally, myrrh. Now this is them ost curious gift of all. Myrrh in ancient times when combined with wine became an anesthetic that was given to Christ on the cross. Wine mixed with myrrh, it dulled the pain. But whenever it was mixed with aloes, it became embalming fluid. And you remember when Jesus died that he was wrapped with a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes. Now the myrrh gave off a scent. It was crushed and it gave off a fragrance to mitigate against the corrupting flesh (which really wasn't an issue with Jesus because he would rise from the dead) but he was buried with that, it was embalming fluid. Now gold, "Wow, this is awesome. I can't believe you'd give us gold, we're just peasants. This is amazing." And then frankincense, "Oh, that's really costly too." But then, "Oh we have another gift for your baby, here. Here's some embalming fluid." Yeah, have you ever given a gift at Christmas, it's like the gift that bombs, well this is the gift that embalms. Sorry, it was just there, sorry, it aws just there, throw that out. But of course that was predictive as well, wasn't it? For the angels said, "You will call his name Jesus for he will" what? What will he do? "Save his people from their sins." And how would he do that? He would die on a cross. So the myrrh was predictive of his death and his burial and the purpose of his birth. "His name is Jesus, he will save his people from their sins."
So, let's wrap this up. Which are you like? Are you like the foolish or the wise? Are you like Herod who worshipped the star of himself? That's the star he was worshipping, it was all about Herod, all the time, wasn't it? Whatever stood in his way, even God would not grab a hold of his life. He would have nobody stand in the way between him and power. It was all about him. Yet, here's the weird thing about Herod: He pretended to be a worshipper. He said really piously to the wise men, "Hey, when you find out where he is, give me word, I want to go worship him too." Yeah, right. He wanted to kill him as the story unfolds. But he acted like he was a worshipper but he really wasn't. 
I heard about a man who knocked on a door and he had sort of a sad look on his face. And a woman opened the door to see this man with the sad look. And he said, "I'm so sorry to bother you but I'm collecting money for a very unfortunate family in the neighborhood. The husband lost his job, the children are hungry, all their utilities have been shut off. And unless they get money to pay their rent, they'll get kicked out of their apartment this afternoon. I'm collecting money." The woman said, "I'd be glad to help out, but who are you?" He said, "I'm the landlord." See big different story, isn't it? He wasn't collecting money for the poor family, he was collecting money for himself. He wanted to make sure that he got paid off for the rent. 
That was Herod. And It hink a lot of people in pews today, like Herod, are consumed with themselves but they like to plaster on, "I go to church, it's all about God." So you search your heart tonight and say, "Am I like Herod? Is it about him or is it about me?" 
Or, second are you like the religious leaders? Now they were following the star of religion. They had academic knowledge, they could quote the scripture, they had no relationship with God. They had the right answer but the wrong act ion. They didn't get up and check it out. They knew their Bible, they knew prophecy, the knew the birthplace, but they didn't personalize it, not on a relational personal level.
Or, are you like the magi? They followed the star of Christ, they bowed and worshipped in humility. And even though they were from afar, the worshipped.
Look at verse 12, we didn't read it yet. I saved it for last and I'm going to ask just for a little bit of latitude in my interpretation of it. "Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way." Look at that one last phrase, "They departed for their country another way." They took a different route is the idea of the text. But I just want to also say that that's exactly what happens when truly honestly comes to Jesus Christ as they are. They're never the same, they leave differently than they came. You don't leave the same way, when you get in touch with God and it's real, you leave a different way than you came. "If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away and all things become new." It'll change you forever. Has it? Has it? Christmas is over but Jesus Christ is the same, today, yesterday and forever.
I want to close with a story that I found in a book by an author that I greatly respect. This is after Christmas he's writing. He says, "It's Christmas night tonight and the house is quiet, even the crackle is gone from the fireplace, warm coals issue a lighthouse glow in the darkened den. Stockings hang empty on the mantle. The tree stands naked in the corner. Christmas card, tinsels and memories remind a Christmas night, of Christmas day is here. What a day it's been. Spiced tea, cranberry sauce, things like, 'thank you so much. You shouldn't have. Or, 'Grandma's on the phone.' Or, 'Oh yeah it fits perfectly.' Flashing cameras. It's Christmas night, the midnight hour chimed and I should be sleeping but I'm awake. I'm kept awake by one stunning thought. The world was different, this week. It was temporarily transformed. The magical dust of Christmas glittered on the cheeks of humanity ever so briefly reminding us of what is worth having and what we were intended to be. It's Christmas night, in a few hours the cleanup will begin. The lights will come down, trees will be thrown out, size 36 will be exchanged for size 40. Egg nog will ge on sale for half price and soon life will be normal again. December's generosity will become January's payments. And the magic will begin to fade. For a moment the magic is still in the air. Maybe that's why I'm still awake. I want to savor the spirit just a bit more. I want to pray that hose who beheld him today will look fro him next August. And I can't help but linger on one fanciful thought: if he can do so much with such timid prayers lamely offered in December. How much more could he do if we thought of him every day?"
Christmas is over, Christ is not. And in a few short days there's going to be a whole nother way of marking a whole nother year, year of possibilities of what God might do. 
Let's pray. Our heavenly Father, all of us here tonight have some sort of relationship with you, some interface with you. Some, probably most, are wise. They've come to worship. They frequently come to worship. You are worthy. They love to sing, they love to hear the scripture taught, they love to rise up and obey it. How thankful we are for such exemplary and stalwart believers. But it could be that some have come but they haven't really come to Christ. It could be that some are hre and it's really about them and it's not about you. Only you know the heart. We pray that you would reveal the true motive if someone is not in touch with it tonight. Maybe hiding behind the mask and guise of religion and even quoting and knowing Bible verses but not a life that's surrendered, not a life that's conformed to your image. Would you by your Spirit show us how our lives can be different, not just one day or one week a year, but the whole year. May that Spirit, that sweet Spirit of conviction abide with us so that when we're gathering this Sunday and next month and two years from now, Christ (as Paul said) will become bigger, enlarged in my body, magnified in my body, than every before. It's in his name we pray. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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12/25/1983
completed
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Christmas 1983
Luke 1:26-33
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas 1983 - Luke 1:26-33 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/23/1984
completed
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Those Who Found Christmas
Luke 2:8-20
Skip Heitzig
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Those Who Found Christmas - Luke 2:8-20 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1985
completed
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Christmas Eve Service 1985
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1985 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/21/1986
completed
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A Gift for Jesus
Matthew 2:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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A Gift for Jesus - Matthew 2:1-12 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/20/1987
completed
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What Child is This?
Luke 2:1-14
Skip Heitzig
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What Child is This? - Luke 2:1-14 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/25/1988
completed
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Simeon's Christmas Present
Luke 2:25-35
Skip Heitzig
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Simeon's Christmas Present - Luke 2:25-35 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1989
completed
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Christmas According to Isaiah
Isaiah 9:6-7
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas According to Isaiah - Isaiah 9:6-7 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/23/1990
completed
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Kinfolk of Christ
Matthew 1:1-17
Skip Heitzig
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Kinfolk of Christ - Matthew 1:1-17 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/22/1991
completed
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The Man Who Missed Christmas
Matthew 2; Luke 2
Skip Heitzig
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The Man Who Missed Christmas - Matthew 2, Luke 2 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1992
completed
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Strange Birthday Gifts
Matthew 2:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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Strange Birthday Gifts - Matthew 2:1-12 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1993
completed
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Christmas Eve Service 1993
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1993 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/15/1994
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Can Christmas Lead You to Christ?
Skip Heitzig
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Can Christmas Lead You to Christ? from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1994
completed
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Christmas Eve Service 1994
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1994 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/25/1994
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The Crisis of Christmas
John 1
Skip Heitzig
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The Crisis of Christmas - John 1 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/9/1995
completed
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What Makes Christmas So Right
Skip Heitzig
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What Makes Christmas So Right from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/17/1995
completed
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O Holy Night
Skip Heitzig
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O Holy Night from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1995
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Christmas Eve Service 1995
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1995 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/28/1995
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Christmas Outreach 1995
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Outreach 1995 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1996
completed
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Christmas Eve Service 1996
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1996 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1997
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Christmas Eve Service 1997
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1997 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/20/1998
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Four Names for God's Gift
Matthew 1:18-2:5
Skip Heitzig
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Four Names for God's Gift - Matthew 1:18-2:5 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1998
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Christmas Eve Service 1998
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1998 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1999
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Christmas Eve Service 1999
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1999 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2000
completed
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Christmas Lessons From The Family Tree
Matthew 1
Skip Heitzig
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Every year many folks buy a Christmas tree and place it in their homes, bedecking it for the holiday festivities. Meanwhile, the real Christmas tree is too often left out of the celebrations. I'm talking about the family tree - the genealogical record of Jesus' ancestry which forms the beginning of the Christmas story. If you've never considered it before, you're in for a pleasant (and shocking) surprise!
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12/23/2001
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The King of Christmas
Isaiah 9:6-7
Skip Heitzig
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The King of Christmas - Isaiah 9:6-7 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2001
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Christmas Eve Service 2001
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2001 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2002
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Christmas Eve Service 2002
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2002 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2003
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Christmas Eve Service 2003
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2003 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/19/2004
completed
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The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Matthew 1:18-2:6
Skip Heitzig
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The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Matthew 1:18-2:6 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2004
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Christmas Eve Service 2004
Luke 2:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2004 - Luke 2:1-7 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/17/2005
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Merry CHRISTmas
Matthew 1:18-25
Skip Heitzig
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Merry CHRISTmas - Matthew 1:18-25 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/21/2005
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A Classic Christmas
Skip Heitzig
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A Classic Christmas from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/23/2005
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Christmas Eve Service 2005
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2005 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/25/2005
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How Did Jesus Celebrate Christmas?
John 10:22-31
Skip Heitzig
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How Did Jesus Celebrate Christmas? - John 10:22-31 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2006
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A Not-So-Silent Night
Luke 2:1-20
Skip Heitzig
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The Christmas season with its familiar carols wafting through the air evokes emotions of peace, tranquility and serenity. The birth of Jesus Christ was hardly that kind of an event. It was not a "silent night" but rather a boisterous and busy one. It's been that way ever since hasn't it? Into our busy world stepped the Son of God. Let's consider what lessons we can learn from the busyness of the first Christmas and how God wants to connect with our busy schedules.
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12/24/2006
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Christmas Eve Service 2006
Skip Heitzig
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12/24/2007
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Christmas Eve Service 2007
Skip Heitzig
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12/21/2008
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Christmas in a Nutshell
John 1:14
Skip Heitzig
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12/24/2008
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No Fear - Christmas Eve 2008
Matthew 1:1-25; Luke 1:1-80
Skip Heitzig
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12/20/2009
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Is It OK To Celebrate Christmas?
Matthew 2:1-6
Skip Heitzig
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Every year timid yet sincere believers ask this question. They can see the commercialization of what was intended to be a celebration of the Lord's birth. They've heard about the paganization of the ancient Babylonians and Romans. Perhaps they're worried about putting up a tree or giving gifts because they, like their Puritan predecessors, feel that this would be compromising their faith. So let's take a brief look backward to the origin of some these traditions and chart a reasonable and biblical course forward so we can celebrate with a clear and joyful conscience.
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12/24/2009
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A Christmas Island - Christmas Eve 2009
Skip Heitzig
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The circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus form a paradox to the identity of our Savior -- the God who created heavens and earth born as a helpless baby in Bethlehem. Let's travel together to that Christmas Island of old, and consider the greatest gift ever given.
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12/8/2010
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Is It OK To Celebrate Christmas?
Matthew 2:1-6
Skip Heitzig
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Every year timid yet sincere believers ask this question. They can see the commercialization of what was intended to be a celebration of the Lord's birth. They've heard about the paganization of the ancient Babylonians and Romans. Perhaps they're worried about putting up a tree or giving gifts because they, like their Puritan predecessors, feel that this would be compromising their faith. So let's take a brief look backward to the origin of some these traditions and chart a reasonable and biblical course forward so we can celebrate with a clear and joyful conscience.
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12/12/2010
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The PRESENTS of God
Matthew 6:25-34
Skip Heitzig
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No matter how generous you may be this Christmas or at any other time, you will never be able to out-give God! His lavish kindness can be plainly observed, but it is too often overlooked. Let's consider during this season just how openhanded God is to us and the nature of some of His presents that He gives to us who are His children.
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12/19/2010
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Mary's Excellent ADVENTure
Luke 1:26-55
Skip Heitzig
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Christmastime has historically been referred to as Advent Season by the church. Advent means arrival or coming. At Christmas we celebrate the first advent (or coming) of Christ to earth to redeem the human race from sin, while we await His second advent when He rules forever. Mary of Nazareth was the human receptacle that God used to birth His Son into the world. She was a model believer in every way. Her example brings fresh encouragement to us. Let’s consider her.
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12/24/2010
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The Light Was About to Shine - Christmas Eve 2010
Matthew 4:13-17
Skip Heitzig
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As the prophet Isaiah peered through his prophetic lens, he could see a small glimmer of light in the future. At the time of Jesus' birth the world sat in darkness--politically, economically, and spiritually. But when Jesus Christ was born, God Turned on the light! Let’s consider the beautiful source of illumination and learn that while we may be sitting in darkness, God is calling us to step into Son-light.
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12/15/2013
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A Baby in an Old Man's Arms
Luke 2:25-35
Skip Heitzig
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To speak about a gruesome death seems out of place at Christmas time, doesn't it? Why would we take Communion (the elements that speak of Jesus' death) at a time we should be celebrating Jesus' birth? An old man answers that question for us: Simeon of Jerusalem takes the baby Jesus in his arms and tells us the rest of the Christmas story.
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12/22/2013
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It's Darkest Just Before Dawn!
Matthew 4:13-17
Skip Heitzig
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A well-worn adage from the 1600s declares that it's always the darkest just before the dawn. Christmas is a celebration of light: Lights are strung everywhere both indoors and out. If you've ever wondered why, it's because Jesus, the light of the world, pierced the darkness of our world, making it possible for us to see clearly enough to escape one world and move into the next.
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12/24/2013
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The Light Has Come
John 1:9
Skip Heitzig
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you've ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes, it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness." But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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12/24/2015
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Jesus: Hope for All
Luke 2:4-14
Skip Heitzig
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The birth of Jesus Christ fulfilled prophecy and brought hope to all. In this Christmas Eve message, Pastor Skip explains how Jesus' birth is a preview to what His life and death means for us: Jesus was and is accessible to all people from all walks of life who believe in His name.
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12/24/2017
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Christmas Under the Tree
Skip Heitzig
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With roughly 30 million sold every year, Christmas trees are one of the most popular and cherished Christmas traditions. Decorated trees adorn our homes, shops, and churches during the holiday season. The question is: What does a tree have to do with Christmas?
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12/23/2018
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Christmas Through the Ages
Romans 1:1-4; Galatians 4:4-5
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas stands as one of the major holidays within the church. On Christmas Day, we celebrate the incarnation, God coming to earth in human form through the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In this teaching, Skip Heitzig reflects on the unique aspects of Jesus' birth, looking to Scripture to find where Christmas began and why.
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There are 51 additional messages in this series.