Pt. 1 – The Christmas Story (The Stage Was Set)

The Stage Was Set

The key themes of the Christmas Story are:

  • Joy
  • Redemption and Salvation
  • God is faithful to fulfill His promises
  • Fear not
  • Nothing is impossible with God
  • God speaks to us in dreams; listen to Him

God has a perfect season and timing for everything in our lives.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.  Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV).

God’s Word is filled with precious promises.  Have you asked the Lord to do something specific in your life and you know deep in your heart that He said “yes” and made a promise to you that He would do it?

He may have quickened a Scripture that pertains to your situation or maybe He dropped a promise into your heart. Perhaps a prophetic message was spoken over you and it bore witness in your spirit that it was of God, and was a confirmation of what the Lord had been speaking to your heart.

What is your circumstance?  What are you believing God for?

When God first promises something to us there is the feeling of being overjoyed and a sense of expectancy.  It seems like the promise will come to pass right away.  In some cases it does, but in most instances a period of time elapses between the moment the promise is first given and the time it comes to fulfillment.

Many times months and years go by and the promise still has not happened.  Have you ever experienced that feeling of disappointment that just when it seemed like the promise was finally going to come to pass, there was a sudden turn in the road?

Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV) says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”

The devil uses these opportune times in our lives to taunt us with words like: “It will never happen” … “Did God really say that?” … “It’s too late for you”.

God’s delay in answering prayer does not necessarily mean denial.  God’s promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).  Though the promise tarry it will surely come to pass and not prove false.  God wants us to have faith and to trust him.

Psalms 145:13 (NIV) tells us:  “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV) says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Even in the timing of the birth of Christ, the Messianic promises had been spoken hundreds and thousands of years before Christ became flesh.

Why did God wait so long to send His Son?  The answer:  Because the stage had to be fully set first.

In looking back on history, God waited until certain things were in place before sending Jesus to earth.  For instance, roads had been built by the Romans.  The Romans ruled much of the known world during that time, and they had built wide highways and roads going every direction from Rome to the Middle East, Africa, Far East and European countries.  Because the roads were built, travel to almost any destination was possible.

Besides roads for land travel, there were technological advances in sea travel with ships to transport people to almost any coastal destination, including the isles of the sea.

Jesus said to make disciples of every nation, and with access to land and sea travel, it was now possible for His disciples to fulfill Jesus’ commission and to spread the Gospel to every nation in the known world.

Another important factor which set the stage for the coming of Christ is that during that time in history, Greek was the universal language.

While every country and region spoke their own native tongue, all nations also spoke Greek.  The New Testament was written in Greek so that everyone could understand the Gospel.  Business and foreign relations with other countries was possible since everyone understood the language.

Unlike centuries prior, most people in the known world were able to read and write in Greek.  Most street signs were written in Greek, as well as public announcements from the Romans.  With everyone knowing Greek, and most people able to read and write in Greek, communication was possible so that the Gospel could spread to the ends of the earth.

The political climate was ripe for the Messiah to come.  There had been Jewish revolts taking place, the most notorious being the Maccabean revolts.  There was conflict over Judaism and Hellenism.  The Seleucid Empire persecuted the traditional Jews and tried to eradicate their religion and religious practices altogether.

The lifestyle of the Greco-Roman world was incompatible with that of the Jews.  Because the Greco-Roman influence was so heavy, the younger generation of Jews began to adopt many of the ways of the pagan culture and abandon Judaism.

The revolts were also to rebel against Roman rule over their country Israel, and the heavy taxation.  Israel had been an independent nation, having had possessed the land thousands of years before.  Now their nation was being taken over by Roman rule.  There was tremendous upheaval and unrest.

Roman soldiers could be very brutal with citizens and everyday life posed many dangers.

A forerunner was needed to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Luke 3:4, Isaiah 40:3-5, Malachi 4:5-6).  He was born six months prior to Jesus’ birth.

The fullness of time had come for the Messiah to come to earth and the stage was completely set in place.

In our own lives, sometimes the promises of God are not fulfilled until the stage has been set in place.  The Lord takes us through a period of preparation.  He is at work behind the scenes getting everything ready.  When it is God’s timing, things begin to fall into place.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

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Love, Pt. 3 – Love Defined in 1 Corinthians 13 in the Greek

Paul the Apostle defines for us what agape love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.

He writes: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” NKJV

Below I have given the Greek words and Greek definitions for what love is and what love is not, so that we may have a fuller understanding of what Paul is teaching. The numbers within the parenthesis refer to the Strong’s New Testament Concordance.

Love is …

  1. Patient (3114 makrothumeo) – to be long spirited, forbearing, patient; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; to be long suffering; slow to anger, slow to punish.
  1. Kind (5541 chresteuomai) – to show oneself helpful; i.e. to act benevolently; to show oneself mild.
  1. Not Envious (2206 zeloo) – to have warmth of feeling against; to be heated or boiling; jealousy.
  1. Not boastful (4068 perpereuomai) – braggart; to vaunt oneself.
  1. Not Proud or Arrogant (5448 phusioo) – to be haughty; to inflate; blow up; blow out; to cause to swell up.
  1. Not Rude (807 aschemoneo) – to be (or act) unbecoming; behave unseemly.
  1. Not Self-Seeking (2212 zeteo) – seek; require; demand (one’s own way); selfishness; self-centeredness.
  1. Not Easily Angered (3947 paroxuno) – to exasperate; to irritate; provoke; rouse to anger; to be sharp.
  1. Thinking No Evil (2556 kakos) – troublesome; injurious; pernicious; destructive; baneful; keeping a record of wrongs.
  1. Not Rejoicing in Iniquity (93 adikia) – injustice; moral wrongfulness (of character, life or act).
  1. Rejoices in Truth (225 aletheia) – what is true in any matter under consideration (opposed to what is feigned, fictitious, false); truth as a personal excellence; that candor or mind which is free from affectation, pretense, simulation, falsehood, deceit.
  1. Beareth All Things (Protects) (4722 stego) – to roof over, i.e. (figuratively) to cover with silence; to keep secret; to hide; conceal; to protect or keep by covering; to preserve; to bear up against; hold out against, and so to endure, bear, forbear.
  1. Believeth All Things (Trust) (4100 pisteuo) – to have faith (in, or with respect to, a person); to think to be true; to be persuaded of; to credit; place confidence in.
  1. Hopeth All Things (Expect) (1679 elpizo) – to expect; expect the best.
  1. Endures All Things (5278 hupomeno) – abide, remain; i.e. bear trials; have fortitude; persevere.
  1. Love Never Fails (or Falls) (4098 pipto) – to fall; used of descent from a higher place to a lower; used of descent from a standing to a prostrate position; to fall from a state of uprightness; i.e. to sin; to come to an end; cease.

Sources:

  • The Holy Bible, King James Version
  • Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database, PC Study Bible, Copyright 2000 by Biblesoft
  • Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright 1994. Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.

Love, Pt. 2 – Greek Words For Love

Listed below are the Greek words which are translated as “love” in the New Testament. The numbers in parenthesis besides each Greek word refers to the Strong’s New Testament Concordance number for that word. For example, agape (26).

  1. Agape (26) – a noun. Sacrificial, unselfish love; benevolence; good will. God’s love for mankind. Our love for God and others. Agape love involves feelings of affection, but is based on a decision of the will. Agape love always gives, and puts the interests of others before its own.

Agape is a term used for the Love Feasts in the early church. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary states: “At this meal the Christians, in connection with their common Redeemer Jesus Christ, ignored all distinctions of rank, wealth, and culture, and met as members of one family.”

Below are listed the New Testament Scriptures where the word agape is found.

Matt 24:12; Luke 11:42; John 5:42, 13:35, 15:9-10,13, 17:26; Rom 5:5,8, 8:35,39, 12:9, 13:10, 14:15, 15:30; 1 Cor 8:1, 13:1-4,8,13, 14:1, 16:14,24; 2 Cor 2:4,8, 5:14, 6:6, 8:7-8,24, 13:11,14; Gal 5:6,13,22; Eph 1:4,15, 2:4, 3:17,19, 4:2,15-16, 5:2, 6:23; Phil 1:9,15, 2:1-2; Col 1:4,8,13, 2:2, 3:14; 1 Thess 1:3, 3:6,12, 5:8,13; 2 Thess 1:3, 2:10, 3:5; 1 Tim 1:5,14, 2:15, 4:12, 6:11; 2 Tim 1:7,13, 2:22, 3:10; Tit 2:2; Philem 5:7,9; Heb 6:10,10:24; 1 Pet 4:8, 5:14; 2 Pet 1:7; 1 John 2:5,15, 3:1,16-17, 4:7-10,12,16-18, 5:3; 2 John 3:6; 3 John 6; Jude 2:12,21; Rev 2:4,19.

  1. Agapao (25) – a verb. To regard the best welfare of another. To have preference for one another. To prize and treasure. Love for the brethren. God’s love for mankind as demonstrated by giving His one and only Son. Our love for God demonstrated in affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of benefits received.

Matt 5:43-44,46, 6:24, 19:19, 22:37,39; Mark 10:21, 12:30-31,33; Luke 6:27,32,35, 7:5,42,47, 10:27, 11:43, 16:13; John 3:16,19,35, 8:42, 10:17, 11:5,12:43, 13:1,23,34, 14:15,21,23-24,28,31, 15:9,12,17, 17:23-24,26, 19:26, 21:7,15-16,20; Rom 8:28,37, 9:13,25, 13:8-9; 1 Cor 2:9, 8:3; 2 Cor 9:7, 11:11, 12:15; Gal 2:20, 5:14; Eph 1:6, 2:4, 5:25,28,33, 6:24; Col 3:12,19; 1 Thess 1:4, 4:9; 2 Thess 2:13,16; 2 Tim 4:8,10; Heb 1:9, 12:6; James 1:12, 2:5,8; 1 Pet 1:8,22, 2:17, 3:10; 2 Pet 2:15; 1 John 2:10,15, 3:10-11,14,18,23, 4:7-8,10-12,19-21, 5:1-2; 2 John 1:5; 3 John 1; Rev 1:5, 3:9, 12:11, 20:9.

  1. Phileo (5368) – friendship; to be kindly disposed to one; personal attachment; tender affection; sentimental feelings; to love from the heart. Matt 6:5, 10:37, 23:6, 26:48; Mark 14:44; Luke 20:46, 22:47; John 5:20, 11:3,36, 12:25, 15:19, 16:27, 20:2, 21:15-17, 1 Cor 16:22, Tit 3:15; Rev 3:19, 22:15.
  1. Philos (5384) – a dear one; to be fond of; a friend; an associate; a neighbor. Matt 11:19; Luke 7:6,34, 11:5-6,8, 12:4, 14:10,12, 15:6,9,29, 16:9, 21:16, 23:12; John 3:29, 11:11, 15:13-15, 19:12; Acts 10:24, 19:31, 27:3; James 2:23, 4:4; 3 John
  1. Philadelphia (5360) – brotherly love; the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren. Rom 12:10; 1 Thess 4:9; Heb 13:1; 1 Pet 1:22; 2 Pet 1:7.
  1. Philadelphos (5361) – the word in which “Philadelphia” is derived; love for the brethren. 1 Pet 3:8.
  1. Philandros (5362) – affectionate as a wife; a wife showing affection to her husband. Tit 2:4a.
  1. Philoteknos (5388) – loving one’s offspring or children. Tit 2:4b.
  1. Philanthropia (5363) – love of mankind; benevolence; philanthropy. Acts 28:2; Tit 3:4.
  1. Philanthropos (5364) – love of mankind; philanthropy; humane; kindness. Acts 27:3.
  1. Philoproteuo (5383) – to aspire after pre-eminence; to desire to be first; ambitious of distinction of status. 3 John
  1. Philarguria (5365) – avarice; greed; covetousness; stinginess; love of money. 1 Tim 6:10.
  1. Philaguros (5366) – avarice; greed; covetousness; stinginess; love of money. Luke 16:14; 2 Tim 3:2.
  1. Spalgchnon (4698) – bowels; intestines; heart; liver. Denoting tender mercies, affection, sympathy, compassion, reaching out to those in need. Luke 1:78; 2 Cor 7:15; Phil 1:8, 2:1; Col 3:12; Philem 7,12,20; 1 John 3:17.

Agape (noun) and agapao (verb) is the highest form of love, and is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

Without agape love in operation, it is not possible to act in genuine phileo or philos love (love for the brethren, family and friends). How can relationships thrive and survive if we mistreat each other, are rude to each other, get easily angered, do not show courtesy and consideration, do not show respect and honor to one another, are unkind to each other, backbite our neighbor, say cruel and hurtful things to each other, display jealousy, and do things which create an atmosphere of mistrust?

Agape love is the kind of love that God requires us to walk in. This kind of love is to be demonstrated to everyone. Agape love is the foundation of solid relationships.

Demonstrating agape love from the heart is crucial. One cannot enter heaven without walking in love. Agape love is higher than human love, and it is not a kind of love which we can give out in our own flesh or human strength. This kind of love comes from God, who IS love. This love is given to us from the Holy Spirit who dwells on the inside of us. The Lord wants us to be a vessel in which He can love others through us.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul gives us a fuller understanding of what it means to walk in agape love. Paul defines agape love for us in practical terms that relate to our day-to-day living.

Sources:

  • The Holy Bible, King James Version
  • Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database, PC Study Bible, Copyright 2000 by Biblesoft
  • Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright 1994. Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.