God's Blessings of Christmas

God's Blessings of Christmas

by Billy Graham, Wayne Shepherd
     
 

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Rejoice in the miracle and meaning of Christmas.

Billy Graham celebrates the Savior’s birth in this thoughtful Christmas devotional booklet. Explore the blessings of hope, joy, love, and peace that believers can experience as they keep their eyes on Jesus. Included are excerpts from the bestselling This Christmas Night, hymns, Scriptural

Overview

Rejoice in the miracle and meaning of Christmas.

Billy Graham celebrates the Savior’s birth in this thoughtful Christmas devotional booklet. Explore the blessings of hope, joy, love, and peace that believers can experience as they keep their eyes on Jesus. Included are excerpts from the bestselling This Christmas Night, hymns, Scriptural accounts of Christ’s birth, and beautiful poetry by Ruth Bell Graham. It’s perfect for keeping your focus on what’s truly important during the busyness of the Christmas season.

Note: Must be ordered in multiples of 24. Self-shipping box can be used as counter display. To order shrink-wrapped bundles without display box, use ISBN 978-1-4003-2336-4.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781480574694
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
10/28/2013
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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God's Blessings of Christmas


By Billy Graham

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2013 Billy Graham
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4003-2336-4


CHAPTER 1

The Blessing of Hope


Christmas is not just a date on the calendar. It is the celebration of the event that set Heaven to singing, an event that gave the stars of the night sky a new brilliance. The Hebrew prophets believed that God had made the world. But all through the centuries they seem to have been saying, "I wish that God would become personal." And through the centuries God gave them the assurance that He would.

This is precisely what He did that first Christmas night. He became personal in Bethlehem. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). At a specific time and at a specific place a specific person was born—and that Person was God of very God, the Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful and glorious hope we have because of that first Christmas!


The King Is Promised

Eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah declared: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2). It was the promise of the coming of Christ and the light that was to dawn upon the world. It heralded the entrance of God into human history. It promised Heaven descending to earth. It was as though a trumpeter had taken his stand upon the turrets of time and announced to a despairing, hopeless, and frustrated world the coming of the Prince of Peace.


    Unto Us

    The people who walked in darkness
    Have seen a great light;
    Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of
    death,
    Upon them a light has shined.

    For unto us a Child is born,
    Unto us a Son is given;
    And the government will be upon His shoulder.
    And His name will be called
    Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    Of the increase of His government and peace
    There will be no end,
    Upon the throne of David and over His
    kingdom,
    To order it and establish it with judgment and
    justice
    From that time forward, even forever.
    The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.


    Isaiah 9:2, 6–7


    O Come, o Come, Emmanuel

    O come, O come, Emmanuel,
    And ransom captive Israel,
    That mourns in lonely exile here
    Until the Son of God appear
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

    O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
    Our spirits by Thine advent here
    Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
    And death's dark shadows put to flight.
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

    O come, Thou Key of David, come,
    And open wide our heavenly home;
    Make safe the way that leads on high,
    And close the path to misery.
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.


    Latin, 12th century


The Angelic Announcement to Mary

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"

And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26–38


One evening in Jerusalem I looked out my hotel window and saw the lights of Bethlehem in the distance. For a long time I stood there and meditated on the events that had taken place over 2,000 years ago and which have transformed and changed our world.

I thought about the angel Gabriel. He came to Mary, who was no more than a teenager, and said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus" (Luke 1:30–31).

At first Mary was fearful and deeply disturbed. Here she was, a virgin, engaged to a godly man by the name of Joseph, yet she was to be made pregnant supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. People would talk, shame could be attached to it, and Joseph might even reject her. But Mary by faith said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). One of the greatest demonstrations of faith in all the Bible was Mary's answer to the angel, accepting God's will for her life—no matter the cost.

CHAPTER 2

God's BlessinG of Assurance to Joseph


Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife ...

Matthew 1:18–24


In the Scriptures we are given just a little glimpse of Mary and Joseph before Jesus was born. They lived in the hill country of Galilee. Joseph was a religious man, and Mary gives every evidence of a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, even though she was just a teenager.

Joseph was contracted to marry Mary, and in that time, being engaged was almost as strong a commitment as being married. I think we give too little attention to Joseph. He is called "a just man" (Matthew 1:19), which means he obeyed the will of God. It also includes the connotation of sympathy and kindness. It indicated his devotion both to God and to Mary.

Then Mary was found to be with child. Put yourself in Joseph's place. Imagine his thoughts, his suspicions, about the girl to whom he was engaged. According to the ancient law, Mary should have been put to death. But Joseph did not want to have any part of that kind of punishment, so he decided to break the engagement privately.

While he was thinking about these things, God's angel appeared to him in a dream to give the prospective bridegroom an explanation of the situation. "Joseph, son of David," said the angel, "do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20).

What faith it took on Joseph's part to believe that message and to trust! He put away his suspicions. He believed God and was married to Mary. Like Mary, he said, "Yes, Lord, regardless!"

CHAPTER 3

The BlessinG of Joy


The Wondrous Birth of Jesus Christ

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:1–7


Among the most tragic words ever penned are those found in Luke's account of the first Christmas. "There was no room for them in the inn." There was room for merchants, tax collectors, travelers, and sightseers, but no room for the gentle Mary and the divine Christ, who was to be born that night.

What was the cause of this tragedy? Why was there no room for Mary and Joseph and their expected Baby, except in a stable? I have some sympathy for the innkeeper. He was not hostile; he was not opposed to the couple; but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. After all, it was an unusually busy time, with guests arriving from every corner of Israel for the census and taxation. He probably told Joseph, "I wish I could help you, but I must keep my priorities. But I'm not a hardhearted man. Over there is the stable. You are welcome to use it if you care to, but that is the best I can do. Now I must get back to my work."

No room for Jesus? No room for the King of kings? This is the answer that millions are giving today. It is the answer of preoccupation—not fierce opposition, not furious hatred, but unconcern about spiritual things.

Things have not really changed since that Bethlehem night two thousand years ago. God is still on the fringes of most of our lives. We fit Him in when it is convenient for us, but we become irritated when He makes demands on us. Our lives are so full. There is so much to be done. But in all our busy activities are we in danger of excluding from our hearts and lives the One who made us?


    O Little Town of
    Bethlehem

    O little town of Bethlehem,
    How still we see thee lie!
    Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
    The silent stars go by.
    Yet in thy dark streets shineth
    The everlasting Light;
    The hopes and fears of all the years
    Are met in thee tonight

    For Christ is born of Mary,
    And gathered all above,
    While mortals sleep, the angels keep
    Their watch of wondering love.
    O morning stars, together,
    Proclaim the holy birth!
    And praises sing to God the King,
    And peace to men on earth!

    How silently, how silently,
    The wondrous gift is given;
    So God imparts to human hearts
    The blessings of His heaven.
    No ear may hear His coming,
    But in this world of sin,
    Where meek souls will receive Him still,
    The dear Christ enters in.

    O holy Child of Bethlehem
    Descend to us, we pray
    Cast out our sin and enter in,
    Be born to us today
    We hear the Christmas angels,
    The great glad tidings tell;
    O come to us, abide with us,
    Our Lord Emmanuel!


    —Philip Brooks, 1868



    The World's
    Holiest Night

    "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    Though you are little among the thousands of
    Judah,
    Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
    The One to be Ruler in Israel,
    Whose goings forth are from of old,
    From everlasting."
    And He shall stand and feed His flock
    In the strength of the Lord,
    In the majesty of the name of the Lord His
    God;
    And they shall abide,
    For now He shall be great
    To the ends of the earth;
    And this One shall be peace."


    Micah 5:2, 4–5


Imagine the scene in Bethlehem. It was the night of nights, and yet it had begun as every other night had before it. In Bethlehem's houses mothers lay their children down to sleep. In the courtyards of the inn some camels lay down to rest. In the fields the sheep lay down while the shepherds sat near their fires. In the heavens above appeared the same stars that had shined throughout all the ages, ever since God had made the stars to rule by night.

Here in the dark cave, as a flickering torch casts high shadows of long-horned oxen on the rough-hewn logs, there is no sound but the munching of hay by the cattle. In the midst lies the young mother, forgetting for the moment her discomfort, for in her arms lies the Babe, her baby boy.

Who would dream that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords? Those chubby little hands that clasped the straw in His manger crib were soon to open blinded eyes, unstop deaf ears, and still the troubled seas. That cooing voice was soon to be lifted to command demons to depart, to teach men of the Way, and to raise the dead. Those tiny feet were to take Him to the sick and needy and were finally to be pierced on Calvary's Cross.

That manger crib in remote Bethlehem became the link that bound a lost world to a loving God. From that manger came a Man who not only taught us a new way of life, but brought us into a new relationship with our Creator.


    Joy to the world


    Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
    Let earth receive her King;
    Let every heart prepare Him room,
    And heaven and nature sing,
    And heaven and nature sing,
    And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

    Joy to the world! The Savior reigns!
    Let men their songs employ,
    While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
    Repeat the sounding joy,
    Repeat the sounding joy,
    Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

    No more let sins and sorrows grow,
    Nor thorns infest the ground;
    He comes to make His blessings flow
    Far as the curse is found,
    Far as the curse is found,
    Far as, far as, the curse is found.

    He rules the world with truth and grace,
    And makes the nations prove
    The glories of His righteousness,
    And wonders of His love,
    And wonders of His love,
    And wonders, and wonders, of His love.


    —Isaac Watts, 1674–1748


Heaven and Earth Rejoice

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Luke 2:8–20


The stars shone like diamonds in the cold, crisp sky. On the hills outside the little village of Bethlehem the flocks had been gathered, and watch was being kept to protect them from the constant threat of roving wolves or marauding bandits.

Like most of the people of Palestine, those shepherds outside Bethlehem were poor and insignificant men. They had no reason to expect that this night would be different from any other. But God had other plans. This was the night when God Himself would come to earth. The dull routine of their lives was suddenly and dramatically shattered by the appearance of the angels, and the tidings of Christ's birth echoed across the skies.

What is the message of those Christmas angels? First of all, it is a message of love and peace. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men," sang the angelic multitude (Luke 2:14). It is a message of joy and hope. "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10). The message of the Christmas angels is that God not only exists, but that He is a loving heavenly Father who seeks to restore us to what we were created to be—His children. Because God's Son, Jesus Christ, has entered this world, we know beyond a shadow of doubt that joy and hope can be ours if we will but receive the gift of Christmas.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from God's Blessings of Christmas by Billy Graham. Copyright © 2013 Billy Graham. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Billy Graham, the world-renowned author, preacher, and evangelist, has delivered the gospel message to more people face-to-face than anyone in history and has ministered on every continent of the world. Millions have read his inspirational classics, including Angels, The Secret of Happiness, Peace with God, The Holy Spirit, Hope for the Troubled Heart, and How to be Born Again.

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