The Message of Christmas: Don’t Miss His Coming!

ChristmasLook! Can you see it?

A stable.

An earthen floor of soil and small stones.

An oil lamp flame dancing with its shadow on wall.

Wooden boards with an occasional knothole or crack allowing the beams of moonlight to shine in.

Sniff….Can you smell it?

A sweet waft of fresh hay.

The earthy scent of soil and wood.

The animals.  A lamb, a donkey, a goat.

Listen….Can you hear it?

The crickets’ nighttime melodies.

The bleating of a sheep disturbed by approaching visitors.

An occasional stomp of the donkey’s hoof against the ground as it shakes and lowers its head and gets another mouthful of hay.

If you’re quiet enough….shhh….

The sound of Joseph moving hay across the ground to make a soft place for Mary to lie down.

The occasional groan of this young girl as the labor pains intensify.

The prayers of Joseph.

A baby’s cry.

A father’s praise to God.

A thankful mother’s sigh.

The Incarnation

Christmas

This was a night unlike any other. The Savior of mankind was born. God wrapped Himself in a garment of flesh and was born of a virgin in Bethlehem.

Gabriel had been chosen to deliver the Christmas announcement.  Never before had an angel received a more blessed and joyous assignment.  Luke tells us how it unfolded, first to a group of shepherds in field:

Luke 2:9-11:  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Before the shepherds could fully comprehend the magnitude of Gabriel’s words, a heavenly choir of angels, too great to number, appeared with Gabriel and erupted into song…

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men…”

The events surrounding the birth of Jesus were miraculous – as if to awaken all creation to the fact that Heaven had touched earth.  God had come to man.

Why was it the event of the ages?  Why was it so important?  Listen to the words of the angel:

Luke 2:11: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

The angel told Joseph:

Matthew 1:21: And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 

Immanuel

What’s so remarkable about the birth of Christ?  It is the story of God stepping into the story of man. When man couldn’t save himself, God stepped in and saved the day. We were powerless to lift ourselves out of sin.  We were hopelessly lost – utterly fallen.  And when we couldn’t get to Him, God came to us!  

No wonder sing the Christmas carol:

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

The Jews Missed It

What’s remarkable about the Christmas story is that the Jews missed His coming!  John said it like this:

John 1:11 –  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

He came to His own people – the Jews. But they failed to recognize Him. Their Messiah had come, but they didn’t realize it was Him.

Jesus said to the religious Jews who opposed Him:

John 5:39: 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

The Old Testament scriptures testified that Jesus was the Christ.  But though their prophets spoke of Him, they failed to recognize their Christ.  Even with 333 specific messianic prophecies, the Jews couldn’t fathom that Jesus was their Messiah.

Luke 19:41-44 records Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem. He wept because the Jews missed their moment.  Oh the things Jesus wanted to do for them, but they missed their hour of visitation.

The Savior of the world was born but to many it was just business as usual.  God had come to walk among men but to many it was just another day.  All the grand prophetic words were, on this day of Christ’s birth, being fulfilled, but most were clueless about the significance of the hour.

Jesus was born in a stable because there wasn’t room in the inn. The innkeeper failed to realize who was standing at his door. Had he known, he would have made room. But it wasn’t only the innkeeper – most all of Israel failed to realize who was standing at their door!

Do We Miss it Today?

We fault the Jews.  We say, “How could they be so blind?”  Yet we are often blind to His coming!  You say, “No! We’re celebrating Christmas!  We know He was the Messiah!”

Yes, I know we recognize that Jesus was God come in the flesh.  Yes, I know we celebrate Christmas – the fact that over 2000 years ago He was born in a manger in Bethlehem.

But HE IS STILL COMING.  And many of us today are missing His coming.

We talk about His soon return to the earth.  We talk about how we’d better be ready, watchful, and sober as we look for His return.  And as true as that is, it’s not what I’m referring to.  I’m not talking about His coming 2000 years ago to Bethlehem nor His soon return to the earth.  It’s today that I’m talking about.  He’s coming today.

He knocks at our door every day.  He calls to us every day.  He’s calling us to draw closer to Him.

Our Prophetic Hour

We fault the Jews for missing it.  We talk about all the prophecies they knew well yet couldn’t see Him as the Christ.  But what about all the prophecies about our hour?  What about all the things the scriptures declare God wants to do in His church in our day?  This is a prophetic hour!  We are in the last days!  God wants to pour His Spirit out.  God wants to do mighty wonders among His church.

But are we missing it?  Are we, like the innkeeper, so preoccupied with life that we don’t even realize it when God knocks?  Are we so preoccupied with the cares of life that we relegate Him to the stable because we have no room in our lives?

I don’t want Jesus to look over the church and weep like He wept over Jerusalem.  I don’t want Him say of us, “You missed your hour of visitation.”  We fault the Jews saying, “He came to His own, but His own received Him not!”  But we are His Bride.  He still coming to His own.

During this Christmas season, remember that He’s coming to us now.  He comes with revival, restoration, and renewal.  He’s knocking at our door calling us to open and let Him come in. He’s calling us to deeper prayer, greater devotion, and more focused purpose.  Are we recognizing His coming?

He’s knocking on your door right now.  He’s calling you – drawing you.  Don’t miss your moment this Christmas or any season of the year.

~Matthew Ball

Excerpt from Missionary Carlos Grant’s History of the Philippine Church

I was unsuccessful in holding back the tears I as read this at the coffee shop this afternoon.  I felt compelled to share this story of Rev. Carlos C. Grant, missionary to the Philippines.  Here is an excerpt from his book, “The History of the Philippine Church”:

Arriving in the Philippines

missionaryLeaving Hong Kong, now we were on the last short leg of our journey. In about thirty-four to thirty-six hours we could see the great city called THE PEARL OF THE ORIENT, MANILA, PHILIPPINES.

We arrived on August 15, 1957, at approximately nine o’clock in the morning, in a torrential rain, a monsoon. It never stopped for days.  As there had been no funds received by us from the United Pentecostal headquarters, we were very low, and facing we knew not what. $108.00 is not very much money.

Well to make it short, the custom officials took it all and left me with not a cent to use, and we set foot on the shore. We finished up our custom and immigration clearance, and stepped ashore at approximately eleven o’clock in the morning the same day. As we drew near the great Dewey Boulevard along the shore of Manila Bay, I looked at such a large city, knowing in my heart a part of the vast area was to be our particular vineyard to labor in.

I could only stand and tremble at the task ahead. In my soul I cried, “I am not big enough for this job.” Then the promise made in Menlo, Park, California on that eventful night when we were in despair came to me! I will never leave you or forsake you.” Many times that has been my only life-line to remember when the hours were darkest in trials and persecutions which later came so very cruel.

What Now?

As I stood there with fifteen pieces of baggage, my wife and three-year old daughter, Sis. Grant looked at me and said, “Now, what do we do?” I answered her, ”I do not know.” Our daughter began to cry, since she grew very wet with no umbrella, as we had none.   All we could do was cry in our souls, “Oh, Lord, Lord, why, why? How can we manage?”

After a time we were approached by a Filipino man, who asked where we were going. And I told him I did not know. “What are you?” he asked. We said we were missionaries for the name of Jesus Christ. He wanted to know if we wished him to take us to a good hotel, and when I answered, We have not a penny to our name,” he shook his head and laughed. Not at our calamity, but at the absurdity of an American being in the country with no money. Because in the eyes of the Asians and foreigners, all Americans are rich.

missionaryHe said he knew the manager of the Bay view Hotel very well, and he will help us. So we agreed to go. There was not much else we could do.  This man paid our taxi fare and spoke to the manager for us. We registered and got into our room everything we had. So wet we were about ready to cry, and so frustrated we hardly knew which way to turn. By evening, we were about dried out and were now more comfortable. But we had no money to buy food to eat. How do you explain to a three-year-old child that Jesus promised to supply every need?

There are just no words or ways to explain against an empty stomach. Finally, we made ready for bed, prayed, and tried to comfort her. I told Sis. Grant that the next morning I would go on the street and sell our personal things to feed the baby. We could fast and hold out.

The Miracle

About ten o’clock in the evening, just as we were all set for the night, there came a knock on our door. What now? What could this be? No one knew us. No one was expecting us. Could this be the manager to question us or put us out? In fear and anxiety I opened the door. There was a lady standing there. She was a passenger on the same boat we had sailed on, and was one of the passengers who caught the chicken pox from our daughter, who had taken them following her bout with the measles.

She smiled and said, “You are Rev. Grant?” I said yes and invited her to come in. She entered, Sis. Grant arose and came into the room. We could not figure why the lady had come because we hardly saw her on the boat and then not to visit with. Yet God keeps His promises. Praise His Name!

After a short time, she brought forth the reason for her late visit to us. Knowing nothing about us, she had been on the boat bound for a missionary home for Presbyterians, as she was a returning missionary teacher, located in Marawi City in Mindanao. Going to bed she became troubled and grew worse and worse until she prayed, “Lord, what Is wrong?” She told us that God spoke to her. “My servants, Carlos Grant and family are in need. Go help him.” She could not understand. She kept trying to lay it aside, yet finally “Lord, I don’t even know where they are. What can I do?” He impressed her, “The Bayview Hotel, Go. Go.”

She arose, dressed, took a taxi, came and asked for us. She was bewildered as we were. Now she wanted to know what we needed. Have you ever been faced with such a situation? You are ashamed to let anyone know of your circumstances, so I at first answered, “We are fine and we do appreciate your concern.” But she came back at me. “Then if you are alright and everything’s fine, why has God got me out of bed and sent me across Manila tonight to help you?”

I could only look at her and shake my head. “Woman, we need help of any kind. Forgive me for what I said, I am ashamed to receive help from you as we are almost strangers.”  Nevertheless, she took out a cheque book, wrote a cheque for $200.00 and said, “This will help you.”  

Well, what would your answer be? Mine was the same. “Surely we appreciate it and will return it to you as soon as we can get in touch with our home office.”  After a short while and we in tears, she left. And from that day till now, we have never seen her again. Later we wrote and sent her money, and we received an answer of thanks. But I do know that somewhere, God’s reward will be great.

The angels of the Lord encampeth about them who love him. Surely she was an angel sent by the Lord to help us. Taking the cheque to the manager’s office for security, I was able to get food for all of us and we had a good night’s rest, after a time of worship and thanks to the ONE WHO can never fail. 

The Art of Preaching with David Poole

Part Two

On this episode of the Art of Preaching, I continue my interview one of the greatest preachers in our movement, Pastor David Poole.  He was an evening speaker at last month’s National Youth Convention.  He gives some very practical steps on how to put a message together.  Awesome stuff from an awesome preacher!

Thanks for tuning in today!  If the Art of Preaching has been a help to you, please share this video!

~Matthew Ball

The Art of Preaching with David Poole

Part One

On this episode of the Art of Preaching, I interview one of the greatest preachers in our movement, Pastor David Poole.  He was an evening speaker at last month’s National Youth Convention.  He gives some great advice to preachers.

Thanks for tuning in to our latest episode.  I’ll be continuing with this interview next week!  If these videos are a blessing to you, then please do three things: LIKE, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE!  God Bless.

~Matthew Ball

The Art of Preaching with Matt Perdue – Preaching Conferences

On this episode of the Art of Preaching, I conclude my interview one of last month’s National Youth Convention Speakers, Matt Perdue.  He discusses his NYC message and the importance of sticking to your assignment as a conference speaker.  Great advice!

Will you share this video?  Sharing helps get this helpful content out to a broader audience. Please share using one of the social media buttons below.  Thanks so much!

~Pastor Ball