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"And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way." Matthew 2:12

What does Christmas mean to you? Family gatherings, gifts, good times, good feelings, joy, loneliness and Jesus, all most likely factor in your Christmas compilations. Christmas may encompass all of the above, or various other emotions and candlelit heartwarming experiences. Christmas though, most importantly, is a way. It's God's way too! And, if we're going to get the true meaning of Christmas, we're going to have to go the Christmas way.

There is a proper way to do things. To play a game, there are rules to follow. If you are putting something together, you need to follow directions to make it right. God is not trying to save us. He is producing a product that is in His image, and there is a way that will produce it; the Christmas way.

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6

Now Thomas had just told Jesus that he did not know the way and Jesus said He was the way. So, since Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Christmas way is the right way, the only way to God. The Christmas way is more exciting than 'a one horse open sleigh' ride on a snowy mountain slope with a jillion jingle bells, but we must remember that God's way and our ways are not the same. Also, the Christmas way is not a flatwoods dirt road, it is a highway built up by scripture prophesies, lighted by lamps of Godís Word and paved by His amazing Grace. For example, the ten commandments, all ten of them play major roles in God's way. If we remove any one of them, the product will be deficient, it will not be assembled in the right way, it will be lacking. Some people think that having one day a week set apart for worship and rest is foolishness and that marriage between one man and one woman is useless, but God has reasons for both. Thus, a way is a method, a manner, a direction, or a route to follow, and that way has rules. The great longing that beckons us to keep going is there because we are going to God, and the only way to get there is the Christmas way! There is a Chinese proverb that says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." How about coming along with me as we pursue the "Christmas Way!"

The Christmas Way is an expression of God's love so that He could show us the way. To do that, God took the first step as He became one of us.

"Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17

From Genesis to Revelation, God wants us to know He loves us and He has given us shadows and types of Jesus all along the way. The Christmas way is most vividly expressed by the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. That birth changed the world and it changed the calendar from BC to AD. The Christmas way is how God gave us the most precious gift that could ever be. The gift God gave at Christmas is the most expensive, the most durable and the most practical gift. The angels sang the first Christmas carol as they were prompted to herald the Christmas way.

"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." Luke 2: 10-11

Just think about the way the Lord Jesus became one of us. The Holy Spirit would cause the virgin girl, Mary, to conceive and the Holy child resulting from that miraculous conception would be the Son of God. Really, it's God's way to set the impossible before us. He seems to delight in putting great weights on weak shoulders and to make poverty the very catalyst for indescribable riches in Christ. Remember the widow of Zarephath was commanded to feed Elijah though she was down to the bottom of the barrel herself. But, would you believe it? God provided a miracle and the barrel of meal did not run out nor did the oil fail.

When you love someone you want to show them the way. You don't want the one you love to stumble and fall or get on the wrong road. The Christmas way proves that you are an object of God's love. Although there are accidental parents, there are no accidental babies. The parents may not have planned them, but God did and He did it before He created the world. God loves us unconditionally and cannot love us more or less. The love of God manifest in the Christmas way is not based on our conduct, but upon God's character. Actually, nothing you do can make God stop loving you, it's God's way!

No matter how tough the way may be for you right now, know that God is with you because the Christmas way is the reality of His presence.

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Matthew 1:23.

Job said when he was hurting, "He knows the way I take and when I am tried, I will come forth as gold." Job knew the Christmas way before there was Christmas. That's because Jesus was before Christmas, as the Holy Trinity; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were making arrangements for the Son of God to come to Earth in human form. Love came down from Heaven on Christmas Day to show us the way and to make us a way to God.

The Christmas way is needful because our natural inclination is to want our own way instead of God's way. The tendency to make wrong choices instead of right ones is called sin. We all have gone the wrong way and need to acknowledge our need of God and salvation.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6

The Christmas way is not a way for God to ignore our sin, rather, it is His way to pay our sin debt by Jesus Christ becoming our substitute and dying for us because of our sin. When the Lord Jesus rose from the grave, it signified God was satisfied and the veil between God and us was split in half so that we have a way to God. Yes, God surely went out of His way for us on Calvary. Don't you think we should be willing to go out of our way for God?

Sin can be habit forming. The ruts get deep on Railroad Bed Road when it's dry and sandy or when it's wet and muddy. Likewise when we continue to go the wrong way in the wrong conditions, we get into a rut. What makes things worse is that sometimes we think we're going the right way when we're not.

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 14:12

The wise men were told by King Herod which way to go. But when they saw Jesus they went another way. I am so thankful that God allows U-turns! And, the Christmas way allows one way traffic only for most routes. I remember what was probably my first drive in downtown Atlanta when I was going to take a forestry registration exam on Peachtree Avenue. There was no GPS then, but I was making my way toward the destination amidst the traffic in pretty good fashion for a country boy. Then, while traffic was almost at a standstill, I spotted an open street off to the right heading in the direction I needed to go, and with no traffic at all. So I turned onto the street and was feeling pretty good about my maneuver when I noticed I was on a one way street going the wrong way. I'm not sure if Atlanta allowed U-turns but I made one anyway! Just because the way seems easy and right doesn't mean it's taking you to the right place. Every time we do what we want to do instead of what God wants us to do, we are acting like we are God. Just because something feels right doesn't mean it is right! We don't really need human approval to be happy, we can go another way. That's what the wise men did and that's what we should do. We've all taken detours in life thinking we knew better. So God had to send us a Saviour, to redeem us from sin, to reset the direction of our lives and to restore us to His original purposes for our lives.

The Christmas way is not success, it's significance. We would not be celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus if it were not for His death. The cross did not look successful, but one Roman soldier who was there said, "Surely this is the Son of God." In a few days, my family will decorate our Christmas tree. Now if I can get it to stand straight, string the lights evenly and place the ornaments in place, the putting up of the Christmas tree will be successful. There is one ornament that we place on the tree which makes it significant though, a large steel spike nail. It is not pretty, just cold, drab, hard steel with a blood red ribbon attached for hanging on the tree. No one probably ever notices it hidden within the boughs of a Frazier Fur. Likewise, we often are overwhelmed this time of year with the lights, shopping, and parties without which we might think Christmas unsuccessful. Don't forget the significance though of the Christmas way. When you're sitting in your den with a cup of hot cocoa or apple cider admiring the beauty of your Christmas tree, try pressing a nail into your palm. The Christmas way will be warmer and have more meaning when we remember the significance of His birth would be the sufferings of His death.

"And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be re-vealed." Luke 2:34-35

The Christmas way is the way of reminding us that our way is not so significant, but serving God and others are what matters. Did not the Lord Jesus say, to have life, we must lose it? The worldly way is possessions, power and pampering; but, the Christmas way is losing, loneliness and pain. Wouldn't you agree that your losses and loneliness and pain have played a significant part in your walk of faith? That's because in all of those, we realize what is important and what is not, and we also feel closer to God as we experience the power of His amazing Grace.

Significance comes from service and that means giving your life away for a purpose greater than yourself. The birth and ministry of the Lord Jesus exemplifies a life of service and selflessness. From the manger to Calvary, Jesus lived to serve God and others and finished the work His Heavenly Father sent Him to do.

The Christmas way will put us in the Christmas spirit as we forget about ourselves and focus on helping others. When Joseph found out that Mary was with child and he knew he wasn't the father, he didn't want to hurt her, he helped her.

"Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily." Matthew 1:19

After Joseph was told in a dream exactly what was going on, God comforted him when He saw his heart full of compassion and concern for his espoused wife. Is there someone you know who is facing a dilemma or is hurting whom you could help? It's the Christmas way to find our spiritu-al niche and we all have one. Actually, the person who helps becomes very significant. Think about how much God helps us. He is truly a very present help in our time of trouble. Now tell me, who will you ask to help you when you need it? The answer is, the one who helped you last! God knew we needed help so He sent us a Saviour. He also has brought us into this world to glorify Him by helping others. When it comes our time to die, may the Christmas way of living be the epitaph on our grave stone as it was said of David.

"For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption." Acts 13:36

The Christmas way is not a program, place or a pill; it is a person. This person is 100% God and 100% man. His name is Jesus and He came to save His people from their sins. That's the Christmas way and that is the only way anyone gets to God and Heaven! That's because we are all sinners and God is Holy. The only way for us to be made holy is for a perfect, sinless human to take our place and die for us. There is only one such person - Jesus.

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" 1 Timothy 2:5

If you think finding the right man or woman, the right job or promotion, wealth, a beautiful body, or impressing the right people is the way to peace and joy, you are going the wrong way. If it were possible for you to save yourself, or for things to save us and we really didn't need a Savior, God would not have gone through the heart break and effort He did to send Jesus the Christmas way.

During a recent Thanksgiving service at SPBC, a brother testified that he thanked God for convicting him of his sin so that he could repent and follow Jesus. Wow, that is powerful, and that is the Christmas way. We will never have peace with God or ourselves if we're not following Jesus. Going the wrong way is really easy to detect:

"It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumula-tion of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small- minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing every-one into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on." Galatians 5:19-21 (The Message.)

The good news of Christmas is that Jesus came to show us the way and to bring peace between us and God. To find the Christmas way we must give up the ridiculous notion that we know better what's best for us than God does. The prophet Amos told a disobedient Israel that two could not walk together except they be agreed. The Christmas way shows us the way because Jesus is our example and He tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him. Maybe we don't have peace because we're trying to serve two masters. The way to respond to problems, people and circumstances in our life on earth is to follow Jesus, to depend on the Holy Spirit and to know that God knows your way. The Christmas way is the way to peace as we live and enjoy one day at a time, accept what cannot be changed instead of worrying about it, trust in God's care and wisdom, and surrender to God's purpose and plan for your life.

"And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." Luke 1:38

May God show us the Christmas way and may we never want to go away from the Lord Jesus. Simon Peter had it right when he said "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."

I wish each one of you a Merry Christmas and hope that you all rejoice in the Christmas way knowing that the Lord is with you every step of the way.

Brother Randy

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