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Christmas and Sabbath

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How to delight in the Lord the way we delight on Christmas

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Opening

I am going to make a strong statement, to start out today.
I love celebrating Christmas. I love it. Taking time to remember what God did by sending his son to the Earth. I know Jesus’ birthday is not really december 25, but that does not stop me from celebrating Christmas. Why even celebrate Christ’s birth? Because we’re thankful, He came and was born, because we are thankful he lived and was willing to die for you and me! We get to celebrate and make memories. We do so by being together as a family, by eating and exchanging gifts. We practice generosity, we practice showing love and extending peace and good tidings. Like our own individual birthdays, we look forward to them coming and the anticipation is REAL, and we are even more sad to see it end. That is the feeling I think most of us share about Christmas also. Christmas to me is a real treat where we find much delight in, it almost feels like a gift in itself. My parents who have 3 adult children, don’t get to see their kids as much as they would want but at Christmas time or maybe new years depending on which side of the family the married kids go to, gets the whole family back together.
Last year Adventist Review released a video, one I imagine some of you got to see, but it has a man from Australia describing his childhood. His parents were mostly poor and were immigrants to australia. The man describes the experience of being a 2nd grader and being assigned in school a Christmas project, but is confused as to what to do because he has never heard of Christmas. He asks some of his classmates…and they respond, “what do you mean, what is Christmas? Everyone celebrates Christmas!…Its this time your family gets together and eats some wonderful food and spend time together and we celebrate the Jesus when He was born as a baby. Christmas is the best! The narrator cuts in remembering his thoughts as a child, and remembers saying…oh yes, I think I know what your talking about but my family calls that a different name. We call that Sabbath! The narrator continues, revealing to his listeners growing up. He grew up in a very poor blue collar SDA family. His dad worked hard for the family, but the kids didn’t often see their father much during the week, but when Sabbath rolled around, he was always there. The whole family was together, whether worshipping, singing, or playing they were always together. To him as a boy, He identified Sabbath as what others called Christmas.
Today I want to talk about two unique gifts God gave to mankind! Gifts we should long for. Gifts that I believe have the power to change us. Before we continue onward, Let’s take some time together and pray.
Body:
Last time I spoke, I attempted to tackle a subject in one sermon that very well could have been a longer drawn out series. But in the message, we concluded that The ultimate meaning of life is to become children of God and live with Him, and to live for others. We could also express it differently: The ultimate meaning of life is to live with God and glorify Him.(; ; ), or as Jesus expressed it: “And you shall love the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and with all your strength. you shall love your neighbor as yourself. ,.
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Living for God gives life meaning and purpose. To help us in this pursuit Jesus gave us 2 very unique gift. The gift of the Sabbath, and the gift of himself. When I spoke last we broke down verse at first glance does not feel like a prophecy but at looking closer we were able to identify it as one of the first prophecies of Jesus coming to this world.
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God, rebuking the serpent in the presence of Adam and Eve following their sin, says in verse 15
15  I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
), or as Jesus expressed it: “And you shall love the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and with all your strength. you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Again, last I spoke, we established her offspring or seed being translated from the Hebrew seems to indicate a singular, and not simply a plural, and it is through this seed that a blow is made against the serpent . This seed was to be a great gift to humanity, one in which God’s chosen people were to be looking for.
Throughout the Old Testament, the prophets spoke of the seed, the Christ child who would one day come as the greatest gift to mankind. New Testament passages confirm the life changing gift Jesus, the Christ’s coming was to mankind. Long before Mary was aware she would be carrying Jesus, Isaiah, the prophet was already writing about the event.
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31
Isaiah
Isaiah 7:14 ESV
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
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Isaiah 11:1 ESV
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
Isaiah 9:6–7 ESV
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah
More mentions found in Micah and zechariah
Micah 5:2 ESV
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Micah 5:2 ESV
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Zechariah 9:10 ESV
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Zechariah 9:9 ESV
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
These verses written hundreds of years before Christ would be born were to breath hope to the hopeless, often spoken through the prophets during great times of oppression and captivity. But hope was to be delivered through the advent of Christ. He was the gift of hope to a people who sorely needed hope.
As He comes into the world, the angels announce his arrival as the gift and treasure He was to be.
Luke 2:10–14 ESV
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
The New Testament outside of just simply the gospels speak to the significance of the gift and sign Christ was to humanity especially to those who worshipped the God in Heaven.
Galatians 4:4–5 ESV
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Titus 3:3–7 ESV
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
What do we do when we hear the good news? We celebrate. We worship. Christ’s arrival, fulfilled prophecy and let mankind know God was was still actively pursuing his children. Christ’s coming was the sign of love and the gift of salvation to humanity living in a fallen world. His coming is the reason for the season.
I must tell you, if we are not careful Jesus being born becomes secondary to why we celebrate. Celebrating Christ’s birth through is more than unwrapping gifts. Its recognizing the the sacrifice Christ made to come to this planet as a human. It is taking time together with family and specially recognizing the significance of Christ’s advent.
I like how one great adventist commentary puts it.
Desire of Ages Chapter 4—Unto You a Saviour

The story of Bethlehem is an exhaustless theme. In it is hidden “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” Romans 11:33. We marvel at the Saviour’s sacrifice in exchanging the throne of heaven for the manger, and the companionship of adoring angels for the beasts of the stall. Human pride and self-sufficiency stand rebuked in His presence. Yet this was but the beginning of His wonderful condescension. It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.

Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss.

I mentioned earlier that God gave to humanity 2 unique gifts. One precious gift we were given was the gift of Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Along with himself, Jesus gave us another precious gift. This was the Sabbath. Traditionally we have been celebrating Christ’s birth at Christmas time, knowing this was the exact date of Jesus birth, but the Sabbath is a day that arrives on schedule and on time and more than annually but to climax God’s created week.
The Sabbath encompasses our entire relationship with God. It is an indication of God's action on our behalf in the past, present, and future. The Sabbath protects man's friendship with God and provides the time essential for the development of that relationship. The Sabbath clarifies the relationship between God and the human family, for it points to God as Creator at a time when human beings would like to usurp God's position in the universe.
In this age of materialism, the Sabbath points men and women to the spiritual and to the personal.
The Sabbath encompasses our entire relationship with God. It is an indication of God's action on our behalf in the past, present, and future. The Sabbath protects man's friendship with God and provides the time essential for the development of that relationship. The Sabbath clarifies the relationship between God and the human family, for it points to God as Creator at a time when human beings would like to usurp God's position in the universe.
The Sabbath encompasses our entire relationship with God. It is an indication of God's action on our behalf in the past, present, and future. The Sabbath protects man's friendship with God and provides the time essential for the development of that relationship. The Sabbath clarifies the relationship between God and the human family, for it points to God as Creator at a time when human beings would like to usurp God's position in the universe.
In this age of materialism, the Sabbath points men and women to the spiritual and to the personal.
The Sabbath as a sign of the Creator points to His ownership and authority. Meaningful Sabbath observance, therefore, indicates the acceptance of God as Creator and Owner and acknowledges His authority over all creation, including oneself. Sabbath observance is based on the authority of God's Word. There is no other logical reason for it.
The Sabbath as a sign of the Creator points to His ownership and authority. Meaningful Sabbath observance, therefore, indicates the acceptance of God as Creator and Owner and acknowledges His authority over all creation, including oneself. Sabbath observance is based on the authority of God's Word. There is no other logical reason for it.
Human beings have the freedom to enter into a relationship with the Creator of the universe as with a personal friend.
Sabbath keepers may have to face resistance at times because of their commitment to God to keep the Sabbath holy. To those who do not recognize God as their Creator, it seems arbitrary or inexplicable for someone to cease from all work on the Sabbath day for merely religious reasons. Meaningful Sabbath observance testifies to the fact that we have chosen to obey God's commandment. We thus recognize that our life is now lived in obedience to God's Word. The Sabbath will be a special test in the end time. The believer will have to make a choice either to give allegiance to God's Word or to human authority (, ).
Revelation 14:7 ESV
And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Revelation 14:7 ESV
And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Verse Concepts
Revelation
"If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word,
Revelation 14:12 ESV
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Revelation 14:12 ESV
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Exodus 31:17 ESV
It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’ ”
Exodus 31:17 ESV
It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’ ”
Isaiah 58:13 ESV
“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
Verse Concepts
"If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word,
Mark 2:27–28 ESV
And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Within the book Desire of ages, an especially powerful commentary on the life of Christ, the author Ellen white points listeners to acknowledge the true gift Sabbath is to those who would choose to accept it as God’s special day for mankind.
Hebrews 4:9 ESV
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
Mark 2:27–28 ESV
And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
"Wherefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." These words are full of instruction and comfort. Because the Sabbath was made for man, it is the Lord's day. It belongs to Christ. For "all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." . Since He made all things, He made the Sabbath. By Him it was set apart as a memorial of the work of creation. It points to Him as both the Creator and the Sanctifier. It declares that He who created all things in heaven and in earth, and by whom all things hold together, is the head of the church, and that by His power we are reconciled to God. For, speaking of Israel, He said, "I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them,"--make them holy. . Then the Sabbath is a sign of Christ's power to make us holy. And it is given to all whom Christ makes holy. As a sign of His sanctifying power, the Sabbath is given to all who through Christ become a part of the Israel of God.
The author goes further examining the purpose of the sabbath and Christ’s way of remembering it.
Desire of Ages Chapter 29—The Sabbath

As the Jews departed from God, and failed to make the righteousness of Christ their own by faith, the Sabbath lost its significance to them. Satan was seeking to exalt himself and to draw men away from Christ, and he worked to pervert the Sabbath, because it is the sign of the power of Christ. The Jewish leaders accomplished the will of Satan by surrounding God’s rest day with burdensome requirements. In the days of Christ the Sabbath had become so perverted that its observance reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary men rather than the character of the loving heavenly Father. The rabbis virtually represented God as giving laws which it was impossible for men to obey. They led the people to look upon God as a tyrant, and to think that the observance of the Sabbath, as He required it, made men hard-hearted and cruel. It was the work of Christ to clear away these misconceptions. Although the rabbis followed Him with merciless hostility, He did not even appear to conform to their requirements, but went straight forward, keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God.

Sabbath is a special day. Its frequency should not make our anticipation for it be any less than a christmas holiday or our own birthdays. The Sabbath is was given as a gift to mankind and a sign between God and his people.
As a child I was not much unlike most children at christmas. Looking at the different packages under the tree, I might pick one up with my name on it and guess what was in it. If it was felt light, I’d assume it was a box with clothes inside. If it was heavier or made a noise I imagined what toys or fun thing was inside. I much more wanted boxes filled with toys or gadgets but I didn’t care much for clothes. Yet if you were to look at what I used the most and got the most enjoyment from during the following year, it was probably the clothes. You see the Sabbath is a gift that we will always need and will always be there.
The celebration of Christmas and Sabbath are very different. If we are just comparing the days, I will suggest to you Sabbath is far more worth while, but Christmas celebrated the way we ought to gives us so much much joy and a good reminder not just that Christ came once but that he will also come again, this time in the clouds. This is why I have chosen to talk about Christmas and Sabbath. You see there is nothing holy about Christmas, but the gift of Christ being born very much is and to me is worth celebrating. It was something spoken and prophesied about by the prophets, a momentous moment in history that happened that without it, our hope would not be sure. But communicating a constant reminder and sign to to and for us about the Christ created the world and also sacrificed it all to come and live here on Earth, is the Sabbath. A day if if we remember it the way it was intended can be even more special than even Christmas! This year as you are opening your gifts at Christmas, I want to encourage you all to give praise to God for some of his most special gifts to us, the gift of God’s son Jesus! And the gift of spending every sabbath with Him! A day we don’t have to wait all year for!
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