by: DALE NESSMITH
“And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his Kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:33
Recently I was sitting at our kitchen table with two of my grandchildren, Jackson Wesley and Emory Grace, who are two and almost four respectively. I had a yellow legal pad and pen in hand to record the Christmas wish list which I was prompting. No matter what the suggested item was, a puppy, a skateboard or raspberry shoes, the answer from Jackson and Emory was an emphatic “yes!” I don’t think their parents appreciated me creating such extended expectations as I filled almost two pages with yes items. We all like to say yes and to be told yes, but in reality, we benefit a lot more from the “NO’s.”
The world and culture will always say yes. When God told Adam and Eve not to eat from a tree, Satan said yes, go ahead and do it. Because Adam became a “yes” man, all humans became sinners, death intruded on life, and the whole of creation groaned under the curse. Don’t be flattered by having a reputation of being a “yes” person. Rather, if we want our faith to grow and, in most cases to do what’s right, then that little two letter word “NO” will become really special. It’s sort of like being strong when you’re weak; when you say “NO” most of the time you will be right.
Can you take a “NO?” In all honesty, nobody likes to be told “NO!” “I did it my way” is the theme song for the natural man, yet, it’s the NO’s in our lives that puts us in the right direction and gets us in the place God wants us to be. The problem is, we don’t want to be where God wants us to be as much as God does. Since God is over all and is always right, His NO trumps our yes every time. A pinball may start out in one direction, determined by the pull of gravity to go quickly and straight to the goal, but the positive points are accumulated by the bumps and swats, which changes the ball’s direction, extending and redirecting its course, but also making the journey more meaningful and productive.
A good “NO” will make our faith grow. We, like the pinball are on a journey. A predestined trip to God, to be with Him forever in heaven. Getting to Heaven though does not come by default. The road to Heaven is paved with “NO’s!” Jesus told the devil “NO” when tempted in the wilderness. When He went to the cross for us He had “NO” sin in Him, but our sin was on Him. When we get to Heaven should someone ask if we are sinners we will say NO! Jesus Christ, our Saviour buried them in the sea at Calvary.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” II Corinthians 5:21
It’s easy to love God when we’re basking in the blessings of His yes’s. But when He says NO to our prayers, and doesn’t remove our burdens and cares is when we have to trust Him. When God says “NO” is when our faith roots grow. Botanists say that plant roots grow more during rainy, stormy weather than they do on fair and calm days. Likewise, it’s the problems, the disappointments, the hurt, the breakdowns which cause the roots of faith to grow deeper in a marriage, a family, a church, or a business.
God, our Heavenly Father, has no problem saying “NO.” Nine out of the ten commandments He gave to Moses say “NO.” Probably nine out of the ten things we think we want to do, God says NO. How thankful we ought to be for unanswered prayers and for prayers an- swered with a “NO.” Most likely, that loan request that was turned down, that job or client lost, that would be spouse that said no, turned out to be for the best. It’s good to know that we have a Heavenly Fa- ther who loves us enough to say “NO.” Also, what a blessing to have earthly fathers and mothers or friends for that matter, who care enough about us to tell us “NO.”
One reason the culture and world we live in today is so chaotic and confused is that there are not enough “NO’s!” And there are not enough “NO’s” because there is not enough God. We are living in an era where everything goes; there are no “NO’s!” Instead of fearing God and respecting His NO’s, we have listened to the yes man Satan and we are running from God, hiding in the woods of WOKE, thinking we are covered with the shriveling leaves of social justice. But it is true, “NO God, NO peace; know God, know peace.”
Now, what does all this talk about NO have to do with Christmas? How
could anything negative put us in the Christmas spirit? I admit that saying NO to the enthusiastic requests of my twinkle -eyed grand-children while comprising their ‘tentative’ Christmas list might not be appropriate. I believe there may be a special gift in every stocking and under the tree of every Christian this Christmas. To get in the right Christmas spirit though, the tree we must get under is the cross.
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” Acts 5:30
Under the cross, we’ll see the cost of our salvation and appreciate that because of Christ’s death we have NO sin, that His resurrection means our lives will have NO end, while we’re here there will be NO loneliness even though life often makes NO sense. Now if that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, I don’t know what will!
Rejoice! Ring the bells, a Savor is born. Jesus is a love gift from Heaven and the wise men brought Him gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh. But the greatest reason for the season is not what Jesus gave or got, but what He came to take away.
We need to look under our tree this year and be thankful for what is not there. Sin is devastating and the consequences of sin are death or separation. Sin kills our spirit and separates us from God and others. If left unchecked, sin will carry you straight to hell, the place of eternal damnation and separation from God. The Bible says in hell there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. It’s a place of perpetual torment with NO relief. Did you know that without Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, you and I would go there? Now we can be complacent if we want to and disappointed if our list of life’s “wants” are not met, but we better consider what God has taken away and be grateful for this Christ- mas “NO.”
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Colossians 2:14
It’s NO wonder the angels proclaimed peace on earth and good will toward men. A Saviour was born in Bethlehem and that should make every believer wear a Christmas grin. That little babe in a manger, God in flesh, would grow up as a man with blood running in His veins that would wash away all the sins of all those who believe in His holy name. What good would anything we have or achieve be if we were not forgiven? The peace that Jesus brought to us came by what He took away. Since peace is not the absence of trouble, rather peace is the presence of God, sin had to be removed for God to show up.
God knew exactly what we needed for Christmas - a Saviour! He didn’t send us an economist or a president, nor an educator, He sent us the one and only person who would provide the one and only way to Heaven, Jesus Christ.
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
To really get in the Christmas spirit, we must realize that we are sinners. The guilt of sin is the prelude to “Joy to the World!” The true Christian doesn’t have to bounce around to all the Christmas parties with a glass in hand. Neither does a true believer follow Jesus to keep from going to hell, rather he or she follows the Lord because they have been there. NO SIN! What a Saviour’s birth we celebrate on Christmas day.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly. The evergreen Christmas wreaths dotted with red holly berries should remind us that Jesus came to earth to show what real life was worth; eternity. It is a saying that “all good things must come to an end.” Christmas morning breaks that bleakness with the brightness of not only The Light Of The World, but also The Life Of The World. It turns out that Satan’s death wish for us is met with an emphatic “NO” by the Lord Jesus. From Heaven to the manger and from the manger to the cross, Jesus Christ would make the way by saying NO to death so that we might know God and live forever with Him.
“For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” I Corinthians 15: 25,26Christmas will be over before we know it. We’ll have to tell our loved ones and friends goodbye and there will be some sadness because we will miss being with them. Yet, we need to remember that Christmas is about a gift that keeps on giving. There will be no sad goodbyes in Heaven, in Eternity. Getting the Christmas spirit means focusing on Heaven, keeping the end in view. Actually, there is no end, only a new and better beginning. Christmas ought to make us think of our souls more than our bodies. After all, our souls are the part of us that will live forever.
Jesus Christ was born so that we would never die. He is truly the gift that keeps on giving. What good will a gift be to us if we don’t unwrap it though? We unwrap this precious valuable treasure by believing God’s Word. Martha thought her brother Lazarus was dead and gone, but Jesus said “NO”!
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this?” John 11:25,26
“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” Luke 1:34
The only way the virgin Mary could have a baby was by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Mary probably was shouting, “This is not happening to me!” What we need to do this Christmas is to take a few sacred moments between the shopping and the shuffling and examine our hearts as we consider that we are God’s children and that the spirit of grace in our hearts that both convicts and comforts, is a witness of the greatest gift we could and will forever have. This Christmas say, “This is happening to me!” and “It’s a miracle.” Think about it...that sin we used to love, we now hate; that burden we didn’t think we could bear has be-come a great blessing; that person who did us wrong has been forgiven. Surely that is a miracle which only God can do.
Most of the time doing the things which make no sense to our carnal flesh will lead us to the very place where a miracle is born. Going to Bethlehem from Nazareth must have made no sense to Joseph and Mary but it got them where God wanted them to be.
“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” Luke 2:6
Christmas really is a miracle and should put us in the spirit of wonder and amazement, prompting us to look for miracles every day of the year. Christmas proves that nothing is too hard for the Lord and we should go and tell that on the mountain. It doesn’t have to always be a secret what God can do.
The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ should remove all doubt about the truth of God’s Word from even the most wavy sceptic. Thomas’ doubt went away when he saw the nail prints and spear marks on Jesus’ body. Our doubts fly away, when we look into the manger in Bethlehem and see the Son of God, The Saviour of the world, because that very scene happened because God said it would.
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thou- sands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2
Adverse circumstances can cause even the most adamant Christian to have doubts. Joseph and Mary may have doubted they were where they were supposed to be when Mary had birth pains and there was no room in the inn. Yet, the birth of the Lord Jesus in the manger removed all doubt! The shepherds saw a star at night and the glory of it all made them fearful with doubt. The reassurance of the Word of God by the an- gel removed their doubt and replaced it with devotion.
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” Luke 2:15
It may very well be that Christmas “NO’s” are much better than Christmas snows. God’s ways are not our ways, but He sure knows what’s best. And if God says NO, He means it and He gives it to us wrapped in swaddling clothes. The birth of Jesus Christ, it’s when love came down from Heaven. It’s also how God wants us to know how to take NO for an answer. That way, we can face anything we have to face in this life because we have no sin, no death and when things make no sense we can keep going because we have no doubts.
Merry Christmas! Brother Randy