Sunday, December 8, 2019

Don't Miss Christmas: Focus on Simplicity

Don't Miss Christmas:  Focus on Simplicity

We are continuing our Don't Miss Christmas Series at my church.  Last week, we learned how to not miss Christmas by staying focused on Jesus.  This week, we are going to learn how to keep things simple.  Sometimes the Christmas season can be a bit overwhelming.  There is always so much to do.  We can busy ourselves into missing Christmas.  Don't miss Christmas.  Focus on simplicity.

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon titled "Don't Miss Christmas:  Simplicity."

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.


Simplicity


The first Christmas was a Christmas of simplicity.
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. - Luke 2:1-5

It was prophesied by God that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity. - Micah 5:2
The Christmas stories that we have enjoyed since childhood are not exactly historically correct.  We typically see Mary and Joseph traveling alone to Bethlehem, but in those days, people traveled in caravans.  Mary and Joseph were most likely traveling with many others.
While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. - Luke 2:6-7
We usually picture Mary and Joseph knocking on the door of an Inn that might be like an ancient hotel, but it is likely that inns back in those days were very different.  Inns in Bible times were more likely to have been rustic places, perhaps even caves, where animals and shepherds stayed.

Swaddling clothes were more like shop rags.  The manger was probably made of limestone instead of wood.  

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. - Luke 2:7-8

The humble shepherds were the first to learn about the birth of Jesus.  Back then, shepherds were thought of as dirty and "less than."  Shepherds were not allowed to enter the temple to worship.  They were not allowed to testify in a court of law.  BUT, they were the first to worship Jesus!

Don't let anyone tell you that you that you are not good enough.  God has a plan for you!
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
 
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”  

So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. - Luke 2:9-20

The story of Jesus' birth is a simple story, not one filled with fluff and bling.  

What did the shepherds do after they had seen Jesus in the manger?  They went out and told others what they had heard and seen.

In the Biblical story of Jesus' birth, there were not gifts brought to Jesus while He was still a baby in a manger.  The wise men with gifts came later. 

The only gift given on that first Christmas night was straight from God - the gift of Jesus.

Keep Christmas simple.

Spend less, love more.  Give fewer gifts and give more of your presence. 

Why do we overdo it?

- to impress others. 
- to be likable or to please others.
- to find more happiness.
- to be loved or return love.
- because it is the lifestyle we were raised in.
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. - Galatians 1:10
When we overdo, we might go into debt.  We might fall into a depression.  We might get overwhelmed with distractions.  When we go into debt, we cannot give generously and wisely.

This Christmas, embrace the simplicity and humility of Jesus Christ.

Go to Jesus with your burdens and leave with the gift of freedom in Jesus.

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Don't Miss Christmas:  Focus on Simplicity

Image Credits:
Picmonkey
Freely Photos

Read other posts in the Don't Miss Christmas Series here.

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